Direct vs Indirect Sampling: Which is more effective?

27th March 2023

Sampling is a great way for your brand to allow consumers to try before they buy, giving them confidence in your product and building brand awareness. Not only is a sampling campaign a good opportunity to create experiences with existing customers, but it is also a great opportunity for your brand to reach new audiences and encourage them to move over to your brand. 

Over recent years, sampling has become more adaptable due to a range of circumstances including the pandemic and post-pandemic consumer behaviours. However, this has allowed marketers to reach new audiences through pre-existing data. 

Direct sampling targets consumers face-to-face and is usually held in a supermarket, festival or public space. However, over the recent years, where face-to-face interactions have become more limited, and consumers spend a lot more time digitally, marketers need to find a way to reach those audiences. Whilst indirect sampling isn’t new, we have seen a rise in popularity for this and brands have needed to get creative with their approach to stand out. 

Why is Direct Sampling a good option for your brand?

Direct sampling does what it says and reaches audiences directly, stopping them in their tracks as it disrupts their day-to-day. It allows your brand to collect instant consumer feedback and push them into an immediate purchase if appropriate. Alternatively, direct sampling can be done to raise awareness of your brand. When combined with a brand experience, the campaign allows consumers to completely absorb and engage with the product before buying it, creating brand loyalty. 

Different types of indirect sampling

If your brand wants to reach audiences through digital channels rather than face-to-face, then indirect sampling may be the best option. There are many ways for your brand to allow users to try before they buy and increase brand awareness through indirect sampling. 

Digital Sampling

Typically, the consumer must go through the purchase funnel to receive a sample of a product. Therefore, marketers can target lookalike audiences this way. For example, if you order a pair of trainers, you may get a sample of shoe-cleaning spray to test out with the product. Whilst the products do not have to be from the same category, they should complement the purchased item to gain the paying customer’s attention. 

Digital sampling can be measured through sales post-activation and online reviews. However, it is more likely to see consumers rebuying a sample if they have enjoyed it rather than leaving a review without prompt. The level of reciprocation is lower post-sale as the consumer feels they are being rewarded for purchase rather than feeling they must give back after receiving the sample on its own. 63% of people surveyed said they had purchased the product they sampled. 

Office Sampling

Office sampling does not require the consumer to complete prior steps to receive the sample, but they are usually asked to complete a feedback form once they have sampled the product. Office sampling is an excellent way for FMCG brands to reach set target audiences, which can be location-based, occupation or income.  

Whilst this is a form of indirect sampling, there are many things your brand can do to create a brand experience for the consumer. This could be through an accompanying leaflet or booklet, which gives the consumer more options and further information on the brand and products with links to socials. They can also include competitions to enhance the campaign’s shareability and reach. 

Through post-sampling reviews, brands can measure the campaign’s success and review feedback. Each brand will have a different objective, but due to the nature of sampling, consumers often feel obliged to share their honest views of a product when prompted. This feedback can be incredibly powerful for brand in decision-making around product positioning and much more.

Direct Mail Sampling 

Typically seen through subscription boxes, direct mail sampling sees brands partner with the subscription service, sending multiple products directly to consumers who pay for the service. It is the consumer’s choice to receive the random selection of items; therefore, less disruptive than traditional sampling due to the limited reach. However, the rise in popularity of Glossy box, Degusto etc., see consumers searching for new products to try, and the surprise of the box’s contents creates a buzz around the products. These subscription boxes are full of products and can be targeted depending on the consumer’s interests, etc.  In 2021, 81% of households were signed up for at least one box, and it is suggested that consumers will continue to subscribe to high-quality boxes due to the anticipation and feeling of surprise they provide. The consumer is receiving both products to try and lifestyle choices to test out. 

The success of Subscription sampling can be measured through coded coupons, QR codes or offers in the box which encourage the user to repurchase the product if they love it. It can also be measured through online reviews and shareability, as it is common for items to gain a buzz. 

Here at GottaBe! we can assist you with all of your sampling needs. Office sampling is our latest offering, and we are excited to help brands reach consumers across the UK through the offices we have on board. Contact the team today to find out more!