When you’ve talked to 333,000 people across North America about their experience with product samples, you learn a few things.

You learn that consumers love getting free samples, especially unexpectedly.  If they’re a shopper, they’ll be grateful to both the retailer and the brand, with a 99% positive sentiment rating.  Of course, who doesn’t like chances to try things for free?

The Value of Trial

And that’s a big reason companies like P&G are redoubling efforts there.  “We want to increase sampling and trial generation,” David Taylor, P&G’s CEO says in MarketingWeek.  That’s because if you have a great product (and our clients do!), you have confidence that allowing a consumer to experience it for free will win her or him over to buying in.  P&G’s focus on point of market entry is a critical tool in its toolbelt to long term growth, and while sampling is a great fit for that, smart and efficient sampling is also a vehicle to bypass that POME lifestage timeframe, as I’ve described previously.

That’s because sampling a superior product is tremendously effective at cutting through the consideration set blinders.  In a recent skin care campaign, Canadian women, on aggregate, reported buying over a 100 brands of skin care lotions in the past year.  On individual level, however, the consumer reported that she will only buy 3 or 4 brands during that time.  Those brands are her consideration set, and getting your brand in that group of 4 out from that herd of 100 is key to growth.

From Dependables to Non-Considerers

Let’s take a quick step back. Nielsen’s Israel group has done a great job summarizing the eight groups of consumers brands have:  Non-considerers, Awarers, Considerers, Trialists, Regulars, Dependables, Preferers, and Recommenders. That’s a great short cut for describing who’s buying and who’s not buying your brand.  However, those segments are not sailing on autopilot.  They are a churning sea, where this year’s Dependables become next year’s Non-considerers.  To mix my metaphors, this churning sea is a tempest in a leaky bucket.

Introducing Availability

Consumers are further limited by the options available to them, in different ways.  The first and most obvious is availability.  I love Muller yogurt (especially the variety with the citrus froth on top), but as they no longer sell to the US market, I don’t buy them.  But there’s a ton of other yogurts available:  Yoplait, Chobani, Dannon, Noosa, the store’s brand, and several more.  I still buy yogurt every week, but usually only from a store brand, Chobani, or Dannon.  Why?  Because I have a consideration set—it’s practical, and driven by 1) I like this variety because I’ve tried it, and 2) It hits the price point I want to pay. Every consumer does this.  It’s a mental shortcut that allows a shopper to get through his or her shopping trip.

One of the exciting things we learn about product sampling, especially direct to consumer sampling, delivered in home at scale, is that you can reach non-buyers, and those consumers who will soon be non-buyers.  On average 47% of all conversions driven by sampling are non-buyers.  The only way to drive that even more is by including a physical coupon along with the sample itself, combining the experience with the call-to-action.  And voila, that non-buyer now has your brand and your offer in her consideration set, those blinders nudged just a little bit with a delightful positive experience.

Ready to learn more? Join me on July 25th at 2 pm ET to learn a few more lessons that can help you fill up that leaky bucket. I’ll share my top seven lessons from sending over 21MM samples, including category-specific data from our campaigns with top brands and retailers, and direct quotes from our consumer research.

Space is limited, so reserve your spot now.