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.”
No, 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.
“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 pinchme.com. 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
- Late August Swag (redsageblog.com)