COVID-19 has, without a doubt, taken the world by storm. It’s halted industries and stopped most social gatherings. Beyond this, it’s created a new normalcy. Some might say the pandemic has been the biggest driver of change in recent decades (or even a century).
But what does this mean for the sampling and promotions industry?
The days where you simply walk over to a counter for a sample are gone. As consumers prioritize health and safety, smart sampling methods are a must.
The take-home method is one way to still get samples directly into consumers’ hands that is conscious of cleanliness. For example, beauty sachets or sample size products can be easily disinfected and safely handed to consumers. A small team of brand ambassadors, adorned in the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), can effectively execute this type of campaign. The beauty in this is that brands can design their samples to best communicate their message.
An alternative to this method is to deliver samples directly to someone’s doorstep. If consumers won’t come to you, go to them.
If you’re a new product or your brand has new offerings, consider a virtual launch. These types of events are ideal in the COVID-era as they eliminate the risk that in-person events pose. Think about creating a custom virtual environment for your guests to explore. With the right speakers and engaging content, online events can be as impactful as the ‘live’ thing. If you want to up the ante, integrate take-home sampling methods. Send a gift box to your attendees prior to kick-off. Everyone can open and experience the new products together in real-time.
Another effective measure to launch a product is through a publicity stunt. Exciting and unexpected, it will grab the attention of both consumers and the media. It goes without saying that if you have live actors or require a team to build something, there’s inherently more risk. However, with the right PPE, you can still execute a publicity campaign in a contactless way. Take McDonald’s, which transformed a crosswalk into a package of its famous French fries with paint. Then there’s the BBC that marked the arrival of its Dracula series with an eye-catching billboard, which reveals the vampire’s sinister shadow when night falls.
As far as safe sampling methods and promotions go, it may be best to wait until we get on the other side of the pandemic, especially if your product and/or brand flourishes from demonstrations and test drives. If this is the case, consider conducting consumer research in the meantime. It’s a great way to connect with targeted customers to gain incredible insights and valuable feedback. This can be executed either digitally or in-person with teams of market research staff equipped with tablets or touchscreen stations. Just remember to equip employees with the proper PPE, ensure they respect social distancing protocols and sanitize their mobile devices after each use. Offering a gift card to incentivize participation and thank those who take part is a nice touch.
While some of these promotional measures may be more costly, the investment will pay off. Others to also consider include video demos over in-person presentations, wipeable promo postcards that can be easily disinfected and handed out, and the creation of a custom QR code that can be scanned by a mobile device. And don’t forget to encourage virtual participation. Keep the ‘buzz’ going by creating a hashtag and an online contest.
Joanna Beaton is manager of marketing and sales at Tigris Events Inc., an award-winning brand experience agency specializing in dynamic staffing, event planning and marketing. Joanna can be reached at 416-283-9119, 1-844-484-4747 or [email protected].