Orr's April Column - Sampling's Power
The kicker is that all the literature and conventional wisdom (from other moms and even doctors) dictates that once your baby is on a particular formula, it's unwise to switch brands; you're hooked on that brand for the next 12 months. The first company that gets you to try its product wins.
Sampling Can be Cost Effective
Sending a sample along with a coupon in a direct mail package is nothing new. The practice has been shown to result in a respectable 2.45-percent redemption rate, according to CMS "Trends 2002: A Promotional Planning Guide." But taken to the prenatal market, the response jumps to a 4.19-percent redemption rate.
For a higher-value consumer product such as baby formula, sampling seems to be the perfect strategy. The high cost of sending samples is offset by the immense lifetime value … in this case, reaped in just one year!
Marketers of baby products wisely take advantage of every chance to gather information about their prospects: due date, plans to breast-feed or bottle-feed, presence of other children, former brand usage (if any). With all of this database information available about this demographic group, sampling can be done precisely and cost-effectively.
Looking back to what Rapp and Collins wrote about sampling—that it's surprising companies don't use it more often—I'm surprised, too. Are other product marketers missing out on an opportunity to use sampling as part of their marketing efforts?
Alicia Orr Suman is executive editor of Target Marketing. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.