How do consumers see festival sampling?

Sampling activations at festivals provide your brand with the opportunity to take your product to an event with a guaranteed footfall. Whilst Highstreet sampling is effective, consumers attending festivals are generally more relaxed and open to engaging with your experiential marketing campaign. But how do they feel about being targeted at festivals is left open for discussion. Within this blog, we will discover how consumers really feel about festival sampling and the benefits of such activations. 

Is festival sampling effective?

Sampling is an excellent way for your brand to get answers and collect data. It can also provide make-or-break situations for many brands, as we saw with Innocent smoothie, who put their all into one sampling event that decided their future. Whilst this may not happen for all brands, sampling does provide companies with quick and direct answers. By taking a product face to face, you can engage in honest conversations with your audience, giving you a more authentic approach to future campaigns. While engaging in conversations with consumers, you also put a face to your brand, showing your personality. 

Enlisting brand ambassadors that can present your brand values is essential as they are the direct contact for consumers during the activation. They should be friendly, knowledgeable, and be representative of your brand’s persona. You can effectively engage with audiences to develop brand recall by selecting the right brand ambassadors. 

How can I ensure I get the most out of festival sampling?


Festivals tend to be expensive, so providing a product for free is guaranteed to gain attention. Ensuring your brand stands out from the crowd will see you get the most out of your sampling activation. Handing out samples of practical products (branded, of course) that consumers can reuse across their time at the festival will help them remember your brand as they are consistently reminded of your brand’s activation. 

If it is a service rather than a product that your brand provides, why not deliver an experience that consumers are not likely to forget and allow consumers to try before they buy! 

Garnier provided both a product and a service when they attended a 3-day festival. Within this time, the brand activated an on-site salon, took over the camps showers and distributed thousands of product samples as part of its #GarnierMusic experience. Along with the salon experience, Garnier also handed out ‘Festival Survival Kits’, which featured product samples and festival-themed items including sunglasses, bandanas and hair ties. They saw the opportunity to attract an audience by offering them a solution to a problem and took time to create sample packages that would be used across the weekend. This ensured brand recall and raised brand awareness. They also created a hashtag that allowed them to measure the campaign, which saw a high engagement due to the nature of the activation; this, in turn, continued to raise awareness through word of mouth reaching consumers, not at the festival. The activation saw a 41% lift in sales following this period.


Whilst at a festival, your brand needs to find a way to gain consumers’ attention long enough to engage them with an activation. This will be the trickiest part of a sampling activation as there will be many things happening elsewhere that people will want to see. So, by understanding the aim of your campaign, your brand will hopefully be able to create a unique selling point that will engage consumers long enough to make an impact on their weekend and for your brand to make a return. After all, you want the festival-goers to remember your brand and the activation. Often an interactive experience is an excellent way to get your audience involved. 

We did just this when we took Domino’s to Southampton’s Freshers Fair; the activation engaged students through the spin-the-wheel game where students took turns to win. By taking the fast-food delivery service to their target audience and offering students the chance to win free pizza and discount codes, the activation was a hit! We also ensured the prizes on offer were either generating revenue or driving brand recognition, so both parties could continue to benefit from the activation once it had ended.


People go to festivals to make memories, so use this to your advantage and create an experience worth remembering. People who go to food festivals don’t just love eating and drinking. They love to post about it on social media, too.  84% of millennials are likely to post pictures of food while at a food-related event. So, by creating an Instagram worthy activation or sample, your audience is even more likely to share your brand. This will help build brand recall which hopefully will lead to sales. Festivalgoers who share their experience on social media also tend to talk about their experience once it has ended, so continue to market your brand via word of mouth. 

Understand your audience 

To engage with consumers properly, your brand must be reaching the right audience. Researching the festivals you are thinking of attending to ensure that your target audiences are aligned is imperative. Typically, brands can make a judgment based on the festival’s target audience. A smaller festival sees more families and 30-45 years olds whereas a larger festival will see a higher percentage of 16-24-year-olds. Understanding the difference in their needs will help your brand effectively engage consumers. 

Other factors such as the genre of the festival or the purpose will give your brand a good indication of the activation you should run. For example, GottaBe! Ethnic headed down to Diwali on the Square with Western Union to hand out samples. The activation recognised the religious celebration whilst also relating to Western Union’s services. 

Why is festival sampling right for your brand?

Generates brand awareness

Brand awareness measures how familiar consumers are with your brand or products and looks at how recognisable your brand is to a target audience. Generating brand awareness through sampling is effective as it is the first step of the marketing funnel.

It expands your audience, increases site traffic and creates quality leads. Whatever your festival sampling activation’s objectives, you are guaranteed to increase brand awareness with the right campaign. 

Sales at point of purchase 

To put it simply samples, make consumers come back for more. They give consumers confidence in your product, and a recent study found that free samples are proven to boost sales by as much as 2,000%.

Studies have proven that consumers feel the urge to do something nice in return after receiving something for free. This is called reciprocity. Joe Pinsker reported on the psychology of reciprocity and how it impacts shoppers at Costco. “Samplers with a heightened awareness of the presence of others at the sampling station may feel a level of social ‘pressure’ to make a post-sample purchase.” Whilst this study focuses on supermarket sampling, the same can be applied to festival sampling as consumers generally go to festivals knowing they will spend money. 

Try before you buy

Sampling provides consumers with the chance to try a product before committing to a purchase, which is why a sampling activation could be an excellent investment for your brand. Consumers are often left feeling pressured or too unsure to make purchases of new items they know nothing about. So, delivering a brand experience coupled with a taster of a product, any worries and pressures associated with purchases are removed. Small samples give the consumer a taste for your product and almost always leave them wanting more. If a consumer likes the sample, they are more likely to buy on the spot or within the same day because your brand has connected with the consumer’s emotions and senses. 

Does sampling promote brand recall?

Whilst it may seem like an excellent idea to put lots of money into a campaign because of guaranteed footfall, your brand needs to consider the return. If consumers do not recall the activation, was it worth your time and effort. 

Well, we would suggest so, with 99% of millennials surveyed saying they’d recommend a winery, brewery, or restaurant after sampling a product at a festival. As discussed throughout this blog, the key to creating a successful festival sampling activation is to ensure it is memorable. Festivals overload the senses with the many things on offer, so to promote brand recall, you need to stand out from the crowd or offer something the consumers can’t refuse. 

What do consumers want?

A recent study by Ticket Master found that fast-food (55%) and personal care brands (51%) are the most suitable sponsor brands for festivals. Two-thirds of those surveyed say they want to see more affordable food options at festivals, half after healthier choices and one in three are looking for more vegetarian and vegan vendors. This data gives your brand an insight into consumer needs. It would be worth looking at how you could make the most of this information to provide what consumers want. Combining their overall needs with sampling, and allowing them to try before they buy, will see a guaranteed ROI as they will be more engaged. 

Things to consider

Whilst we have discussed the positives of festival marketing, we must look at the other factors involved so your brand can decide whether festival sampling is right for you. At festivals, there are many factors that affect the attention span of audiences such as alcohol intake. Drunk consumers are typically less willing to spend time at a stall when they could be with friends watching the performances. Preparing for situations like this will help you to continue to gain the attention of audiences. Whilst the attention span of the festivalgoers will be low for things such as sign-up data etc you may see more luck with engaging them in an experience that adds to their day. By making the festivalgoers feel as if taking part benefits them, they will be more enthusiastic and more likely to stick around. 

Another way to gain the interest of an audience who have not come to be bombarded by marketing activations is to provide them with spaces that enhance their days such as a seated area or minimal queues. The co-op did just this when they installed a popup shop at Glastonbury that gave festivalgoers a sense of normality by delivering meal deals, toiletries, and essential items not available elsewhere in the festival. Whilst the audience needed to pay for the items within the coop, the activation saw a high footfall as consumers could rely on the supermarket for the things they needed.

A massive 51% of festival goers are keen on a freebie! So, start planning your activations today.  

As award-winning field and experiential marketing experts, our team can help you to reach your target audience through festival sampling. With over 4,500 experienced brand ambassadors across the UK, we have the right people for your brand. As well as our excellent brand ambassadors, we also have a pool of community champions who speak over 45 languages and give us insight into the ethnic communities in the UK. GottaBe! really can take your brand to any audience. To discover our sampling services chat with the team today to see how we can create effective campaigns together…