Intelligent Product Sampling

Almost everything you need to know about product sampling

Product sampling is often used by companies wishing to trial a new product development (NPD). It may seem like a deceptively simple form of marketing. You simply put your product in front of your target audience, and let it do the hard work for you. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s an approach without subtlety.  Doing your product sampling in an intelligent way can bring incremental improvement to your results, meaning that you don’t only showcase the product, but showcase the brand, how to use it, and even get people to talk about it for you.

intelligent product sampling

How can you make product sampling campaigns more effective?

Some of the areas where it’s most common to find product sampling campaigns falling short include:

  • A lack of appreciation for context: where the sampling occurs is as important as how you deliver it creatively.  It’s important they see your product in the best, most relevant, light.
  • A lack of creative impact: the way you deliver a sampling experience primes your potential customers for what comes next.  It’s important you use a strong creative concept to both frame the product in an exciting way, and also to attract people over to your activity.
  • A lack of brand integration: you want to ensure your activity gels with the wider image of the brand.  Are you doing other marketing activity elsewhere?  If so it makes sense to echo this in your product sampling so you achieve greater familiarity.
  • A lack of efficiency: although creativity is important, you don’t want to do something that might compromise your reach.  Is the activity easy to move around and work with?  You don’t have to do something big and complicated to be impactful.

What is intelligent product sampling?

Intelligent product sampling is an approach to sampling where you do everything in your power to ensure the product experience moment is as impactful as possible.

This means thinking strategically about when and where you deliver the sample – even if necessary creating scenarios where the sample will be consumed later on, without the brand even being present.

It also means thinking carefully about the people you get to represent you – choosing ambassadors with the personality and passion to immediately click with your audience, so they’ll be as open as possible to your idea.

It means bringing compelling but agile creative thinking to your product sampling – doing something that will pique people’s interest and draw them over, increasing your reach and the power of what you’re presenting.

And it means thinking about the big picture of your impact – how can you make waves beyond that initial sampling moment, and, of course, how can you measure it.

For too long product sampling has been seen by many brands as a bolt-on activity, or worse something they do in a reactive way when they have the budget or stock. Intelligent product sampling rejects that view, treating it as carefully as any other part of an integrated marketing plan.

brand activation strategy

Product sampling: an FAQ for brand managers

Sampling can be reactive and therefore exist happily as a standalone campaign. Assets from other media can be deployed to appear larger scale and convey a ‘matching luggage’ approach.

The product, audience and consumption occasion will determine the campaign structure and ultimately the investment and cost per sample.  

A tactical activity for example that requires limited engagement and explanation of the product, relies on minimal sampling ‘kit’ and can be distributed at high volume in quick succession, would result in a lower cps than an activity that sits higher on the engagement and interaction scale.

Sense has a dedicated business unit, Real People, responsible for providing skill and value matched brand ambassadors to execute product sampling campaigns.  They are experienced in reacting to consumer needs, location logistics and sampling volume demands.  We actively encourage client brand teams to ‘go back to the floor’ and participate in sampling campaigns to get close to their customers.

Each campaign is unique and multiple factors will affect the shape of the activity.   We use proprietary location and demographic tools to research the best locations for the brand and product.

Product sampling is a unique way to engage face to face with potential customers, and sharing this experience with others goes hand in hand.  In addition to organic shares across social channels by recipients, social mechanics can be added to a campaign structure to encourage further reach.


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Discover our latest guides to help brighten your brand experience strategy or amplify your shopper marketing moves. Get them here at The Futures Lab.


5th Floor Century House
100 Oxford Street

New York

243 E 14th
#2 C/O SQ
New York
NY 10003


Discover our latest guides to help brighten your brand experience strategy here at The Future Lab

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Whether it be Festivals, Trade Shows, PR Stunts, Installations or Pop Ups to name a few, we believe brand experiences are one of the most powerful forms of marketing to impact consumer perception and attitude towards a brand. They can create real behaviour change when born out of a deep consumer insight allied to a compelling idea. And it’s these fundamentals we look to get right whatever the live, virtual or hybrid task in hand.


Sampling is all too often perceived as an unsophisticated, somewhat ‘blunt’ marketing tool. Over the last 16 years Sense has pioneered a set of strategic principles which underpin our unique approach to sampling and which are highly measurable from both an ROI and consumer behaviour change perspective. We will happily guide brands through the myriad of sampling channels and products available so whether it’s mass face to face sampling, in offices, digitally, at home or just a strategic framework that you are after, we can provide a blend of tactics to fulfil both brand and sales objectives.


With many clients now focused on activating in channels more closely associated with a sale, our heavyweight retail experience closes the loop on a typical shopper journey by encompassing the moment of truth in store. Be it prize promotions, shopper toolkits, key visual creation, path-to-purchase communications, category strategy, B2B campaigns or Amazon optimisation, our goal is to create forward-thinking retail experiences that deliver demonstrable brand value. We aim to make ‘retail fail’ a thing of the past for ambitious brands looking to thrive is an ever-competitive landscape and believe our streamlined team is perfectly placed to do this.


Knowing what will keep a brand bright, exciting, and vital means we need to keep one step ahead of the curve. Our thought leadership hub, The Futures Lab, helps us to understand the marketing trends of tomorrow. It’s also the origin of strategies and methodologies which have created over 65 award-winning campaigns. 


Creativity is nothing without results. And we know that commissioning bold concepts, capable of changing minds, requires reassurance that it’s the right thing to do. 

Data, insights, and research precedes every campaign we do, and our proprietary measurement tool, EMR, gives us a decade of campaign performance metrics. Which is why we’re proud to have been recognised as industry-leading by brands like The Economist, Coca-Cola, and Molson Coors. 


We believe brand experience is inherently more varied than other forms of marketing. No formula, no template, no cookie-cutter approach – and often no precedent. 

That’s why, Sense places trust at the heart of its business – grounded in teamwork between our people and yours. Our processes are efficient, our senior team stay involved and our partnership mentality had helped us sustain powerful client relationships, some lasting over 10 years.