news from the intersection of branding & technology

Posts Tagged ‘Costco’

Free Product Sampling Sound Like a Dream? Then PINCHme.

In brand-building, curation, retail, social media on September 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm

by Jeff Sandgren

Product sampling: a time-tested stalwart of consumer engagement, new product trial-driving and brand conversion. Whether it’s that first slice at the deli, or the cheery little kiosks scattered throughout Costco, the experiential pull is strong – and historically low-tech. That changed several years ago when online companies like StartSampling began offering subscription-based “e-sampling” programs. But as quickly as the online providers grew, the consumer engagement turned in many cases to disengagement, with complaints about subscription fees, irrelevant product samples … even scams. Indeed, a quick Google search of “online product sampling” includes names like “scamfreesamples,” above the fold. That alone speaks volumes.

Fast forward to 2013, and an innovative Australian company is looking to reinvent sampling into the brave new world of Internet-enabled, socially-connected, value-conscious consumers, with a model that promises to deliver relevance and delight to consumers at the same time as it provides laser-like targeting (and ROI) for the sponsoring Brand Marketers.

Sound like a dream? Jeremy Reid says “pinch me.”

pinchmelogo2No, literally. His company, PINCHme, founded earlier this year in Sydney Australia, is about to cross the Pacific and beachhead in the US market, starting in October. The formula has been a big hit Down Under, where in a mere six months Jeremy and his 30-person team have signed up a half million consumers and 50 major CPGs. In the first 30 days of its launch in the Sydney market, PINCHme signed up 2 percent of the population, and it’s been a steady climb since. As for the brands, they include CPG giants Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever, Kraft, Nestle and many more.

To find out how the new service is different, we asked Founder Jeremy Reid to explain the new approach.


Jeremy Reid, Founder

“Sampling today is very effective,” said Reid, “but not very efficient. Are the brand sponsors getting the right products in front of the right consumers? Are they getting a measurable ROI on the sampling costs? Those are the problems we’re solving with PINCHme.”

A key element of the platform is its integration with shopper loyalty data from some of the key providers. “It’s a win-win,” said Reid. “The shoppers see only personalized offers on their home page, so they don’t have to browse through products that really don’t fit them. And the brands are only investing in sampling for consumers they want to target.”

There’s a lot of analytics going on in the background, Reid explained. When consumers are presented with their targeted offers, they can only choose one-third of the selections. “That’s powerful choice information, and it drives a much higher trial rate on the samples,” said Reid. Even before the choice, unsure consumers are offered an array of digital content and other product information. In other words, they’re engaged in the selection process – thoroughly.

Fulfillment is handled by PINCHme, who delivers a PINCHme-branded gift box in three to seven days. The offers refresh every Tuesday, but before a consumer can select more items, they have to answer a mini-questionnaire of six questions, anytime within a 30-day window after receiving their package. Reid claims the completion rate in the Australian test market is an impressive 94 percent. Consumers can even make a follow-up purchase right from the survey website … and may be incented to do so with special offers from the Brands.

And, of course, all this is tightly integrated with social media, encouraging the consumers to share their discoveries with their networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and all the usual suspects.

Proof of success back in Australia comes from the Brands themselves: Nestle is already on its eighth campaign, and P&G is on its 10th.


The big news for consumers is that they can pre-register now for the upcoming US launch, simply by going to So if you like the idea of trying new things, and love the idea of doing it for free, you might want to check it out …

… and let us know how you like the service. – JTS


Shopper Marketing Conference targets “In-Store Experience”

In Shopper Marketing on March 16, 2011 at 4:55 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

Every seasoned retailer and brand marketer knows that if you can improve the in-store experience, shoppers will stay longer and spend more.  Disney found that out a half century ago.  Apple epitomizes the in-store experience.  Costco keeps you there by giving you free treats from their famous Demo Queens.  But the target keeps moving, too.  What worked five years ago, may not work today, and we know, strategic marketing teams are huddled everywhere trying to ‘unlock’ the secret to getting customers to spend more.

Under the leadership of Dr. Dan Flint, Director of the Shopper Marketing Forum (SMF) at the University of Tennessee, leading retail and brand marketers are gathering for the inaugural Shopper Marketing Managers Conference, March 29-31 in Knoxville.  (BrandTech will have a complete update on this important conference in our next issue.)Dan Flint

The theme of the conference is: “Improving the In-Store Experience.” The two-day intensive seminar includes an impressive group of speakers from companies who lead the way in shopper marketing, including: Frito-Lay, Crossmark, Mars, and In-Store Insights, with UT Faculty presenting on Research Insights. Dr. Brian Harris, chairman and founder, The Partnering Group, will be giving the opening keynote. The Hot Topic Shopper Marketing Breakouts, facilitated by UT Doctoral Students, provides time to focus on key areas of interest and allows colleagues to interact, share, learn and provide professional insights.

According to Dr. Flint, the driver for the course is a sense that many more managers and new hires are moving into something related to “shopper marketing” in their organizations without a solid foundation of what that means.  They may know what it means to their firm, he states, but not what the leading firms in the industry are thinking of.  The inspiration came from some of our sponsor organizations stating that something was needed to orient their managers and get them to a baseline level of knowledge that they could build on.

“We think that this is needed because more and more focus will be placed on shopper marketing. If too many managers think this is tactical merchandising as it has always been, they will be shocked when competitors regularly take market share away from them, or grow the entire pie in ways they did not foresee,” Flint said.

One of the major factors is the rapid expansion of shopper marketing conferences and discussions in industry that have prompted this initiative.  Research has been going on focused on shopping behavior, consumer behavior, retailing and branding for years. Now much of the attention is being placed on pulling this all together through the entire path to purchase.  So now brand management discussions are involving what has to happen at the store and collaboration discussions are cropping up everywhere between brand marketers, retailers and agencies like never before.

Brands are working with retailers to help retailers differentiate themselves in unique ways.  It has changed the skill set required by brand managers and account managers.  They all need to know business analytics, shopper insights, strategy, brand management, account management, merchandising, finance and supply chain management to make this work.  These skills are currently spread across three to seven people in most firms today.  The course is designed to help managers understand how all of these things are interconnected.

“Essentially,” Flint said, “we need general management skills that span research, strategy, marketing, sales, finance and supply chain management.”

The unique expertise that has been fostered at the University of Tennessee is many years of research in all of these areas and significant work experience with companies.  From consumer psychology, to shopping behavior, to technology in stores, service quality, business analytics, retailing layout and operations, brand management, buyer-seller relationships, strategy and so forth the University has at least one if not more faculty who have spent their careers conducting research in each area.

“We have pulled faculty from retailing, statistics, operations, logistics and marketing to put this course together and to conduct our managers conferences.  We build in hands-on exercises to bring points home and provide nearly two dozen practical worksheets that go along with a formalized shopper marketing management process.  We also have a secret weapon so to speak in significant input from Chris Hoyt of Hoyt & Company; an extremely well-respected expert in-shopper marketing, and Ken Barnett; the CEO of Mars Advertising, regularly cited as one of the top shopper marketing agencies in the country,” stated Flint.

“In fact, Mars Advertising has won the Hub Top 12 award several years in a row. Both Hoyt & Company and Mars know what works and what doesn’t,” Flint stated.  “They have helped us combine their practical experience with our own research and practical experiences with manufacturers and retailers to put together a solid 4.5 day exposure to the concepts, processes, and tools of shopper marketing; from insights and opportunity identification; to strategic planning, execution and measurement.”

Dr. Flint’s personal background and research has focused on bringing social psychology into understanding what consumers and business customers value from products, services and organizations.

“I specifically look at patterns of change that suggest what shoppers, consumers and business customers will value in the future, and work on processes to help organizations create a proactive customer orientation – to look ahead and anticipate.  One view we bring into our discussions has to do with how to leverage a powerful trend toward co-creation of value and experiences that consumers now expect into the shopping experience,” he said.

To register, please go to the Shopper Marketing Forum homepage: .  Simply click on the registration link to gain immediate access to the Registration Page. Under Registration Category, register as: Conference Attendee.  The fee is $149.  For questions or to pay your registration fee, please contact Jennifer Johnson, Forum Registrar.               RJL

Daniel J. Flint is The Proffitt’s Inc. Professor, in Marketing, associate professor of marketing in the Department of Marketing and Logistics, and director of the marketing Ph.D. concentration at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, an MSA from Central Michigan University, and a BS in Engineering from Annapolis.

Enhanced by Zemanta
%d bloggers like this: