May 25 2021

Remember the good old days?

A trip to the mall always consisted of a lap around the food court to enjoy a taste of several free food samples. A visit to the department store was incomplete without stopping by the fragrance section to try all the high-end European brands. 

What about events? We all remember the swag tents. A new energy drink, a new iced coffee, yet another new hard seltzer; we always felt jubilation in receiving something for free.

But what these brands were doing was a sub-genre of experiential marketing more colloquially known as ‘giving away free samples.’ And why did they do that? Because consumers like to be able to touch/feel/taste/smell certain products before they become loyal customers. Think about premium brands like Red Bull. Yes, they have positioned themselves as the leader of the energy drink market. Still, the reason a can costs $4 at your local convenience store could be because they give away over half their product at tailgates and sporting events across the country.

The pandemic and the death of free samples

The pandemic changed how marketers could engage with consumers in-person—field and event marketing ground to a halt. Although vaccination numbers in many places of the world are trending in the right direction, many brands have pivoted on their go-to-market strategies. Consumers have certainly shifted in their habits. Customer expectations increased across the board during the pandemic, and they are increasingly calling for fully digital experiences. 57% of enterprise marketers recently surveyed claimed that the number one request from consumers was a contactless experience, something that product sampling is inherently not. 

Even when people eventually regain the confidence to go back into the world, it has become increasingly evident that things will never go back to the way they were. According to a survey conducted by Adweek, 70% of respondents said they were willing to receive product samples by mail. Therefore, if a brand considers product sampling key to their business strategy, they have to rethink ways to conduct this in a more ‘contactless’ manner.

One such strategy is leveraging digital channels to put samples directly into consumers’ hands. How did everyone procure goods during the pandemic? E-commerce. Clothing, household goods, even groceries were shipped or delivered to us. There is no reason product sampling could not use a similar strategy. A2P messaging could be a powerhouse as part of a new contactless product sampling strategy. A user could send an SMS to a phone number, provide their address, and receive a sample in the mail. 

Conversely, brands could use a QR code on an advertisement that launches a web portal where consumers input their address and phone number. Then the brand could use SMS messages to update the user on the status of their delivery. 

Omnichannel offerings like Mitto’s Conversations tool would also be a logical way for brands to facilitate contactless sampling. Conversations would not only allow a user to request a sample via SMS but also other channels such as Live Chat, Viber, and WhatsApp. 

A new use case for A2P messaging

Not only could the consumer initiate contact with the brand, but A2P messaging could also be used to proactively offer a free product to any user that had opted-in previously to SMS. Currently, many companies use SMS to not only deliver reminders, delivery notifications, and support but also to advertise. You may have received an SMS from your favorite brand discussing an upcoming sale or offering you a coupon as a thank you for years of loyalty.

A new use case could be to offer a sample of a new product. SMS messaging is a great way to touch customers and consistently deliver relevant content. Offering to send a user free product is a way to provide additional value. Check out our past blog on SMS Marketing for tips to optimize your messaging campaigns.

The people have spoken and what they have demanded is a digital contactless experience. That may not sync with your current strategy, but with some creativity and some help from Mitto, it can be your future. Contact us today and learn how we can use SMS and other digital channels to deliver your products directly into the hands of your future customers.