How NOT to Sample

For those of you that know me, you know I try to play tennis.  I don’t play nearly as much as I would like, but I try to get out there and play.

Last night, I was playing in a tournament at City Park in Denver and about half way thru the match, the MONSTER Energy Drink Truck came by and a girl yelled out, “Does anyone want some Monster?!”  She yelled it a few times and it actually got to be somewhat annoying.

This is NOT the way to sample for a couple reasons:

  1. Know your audience.  Tennis players like quiet.  So don’t come out to sample at a tennis tournament and start yelling to tell people you’re sampling.
  2. Have a conversation.  We implemented this when we did a lot of sampling for PBR: don’t just hand crap out and expect it to mean anything to the consumer.  Have a conversation and make the experience memorable
  3. Have a conversation (part deux): My friends at Fizz and Brand Autopsy would argue that you really only get the value of the sample if you have a conversation with the consumer and share the brand story or the product benefits.

3 thoughts on “How NOT to Sample

  1. Neal … thanks for the shout-out. This sampling topic is something I worked on a lot back in my Starbucks days.

    From internal studies, we knew for every 5 samples we passed out, 1 sale would be generated. We also knew that ACTIVE sampling is far better than PASSIVE sampling.

    In my book on how Starbucks did what it did (called TRIBAL KNOWLEDGE and available at all major booksellers), I shared the following about ACTIVE & PASSIVE Sampling:

    Perhaps the most critical factor in how you sample is whether it’s passive or active. Customers experience two types of sampling at Starbucks—passive sampling and active sampling. Passive sampling happens when customers help themselves to a product sample that is sitting on a table or near the main register. Active sampling occurs when a store partner serves samples to customers and engages them in conversation. Active sampling is by far the best way to connect with customers and drive sales.

  2. Pingback: To Sample or Not to Sample | Tetulia Teas

  3. I wouldn’t have any problem with the Monster girl yelling out the side of her truck. She absolutely shouldn’t have been doing it to older people playing tennis, but would it really have been a problem if she was yelling out the side of a truck to high-school or college kids?

    Although the points made in the post (and the comments on the post) are generally valid, the heavy consumers of energy drinks are likely a younger and more open to the approach used by the Monster girl.

    For a 15 year-old kid, a hot girl throwing Monster out of the side of her truck is an exciting brand experience.

    As always, everything depends on your product’s image and its target. The only thing the Monster girl did wrong her (at least in terms of marketing) is yell towards the wrong target.

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