Are Store Sampling Events Worth the Cost?

August 10, 2022

Customer engagement is something that’s become a bit of a buzzword in the digital marketing space, but traditional retailers shouldn’t be too quick to forget the original kind of customer engagement experience – in-store product demonstration and store sampling. 

Although brick-and-mortar retail sales growth has been relatively slower in recent years due to the rise of online ordering and the pandemic, retailers are finding success in attracting in-store customers once again through the use of intelligent promotion management software, and diligent planning, and in-store marketing opportunities. 

The Benefits of In-Store Sampling

When it comes to in-store demo events, the biggest benefits come in the form of brand exposure. When your brand engages with customers in person, the experience has the ability to generate a more personal connection. This type of connection is something that digital marketing and social media will never be able to achieve, and it also allows you to put a human face on your company to create a more intimate experience for consumers. 

Of course, allowing consumers to try out a product themselves lets the product sell itself, and let’s not forget that retail marketing events also open up the ability to make sales on the spot. These days, consumers are used to relying on online reviews to make purchasing decisions, and even “unboxing” videos are a hit among younger audiences who are considering a purchase. When you provide an in-store demo, you go above and beyond what the web has to offer, and you also have the chance to make special offers at the moment to hasten a purchasing decision. 

Considering the Costs of Field Marketing 

As with all aspects of a retail marketing strategy, it’s important to keep in mind the costs of store demo events. Failure to budget properly for these events can eat into any potential gains before you’ve even had a chance to hold the event. First, consider the location’s traffic expectation. You might do this by averaging the number of customers on a given day that passes through a retail establishment. You should also take into consideration the day of the week, whether your event is being held on or near a holiday, and the overall economic outlook in your store’s location. Next, have a plan for any product inventory required to take a selling opportunity of the store demo. While it’s certainly better to have more product and not need it than to need more product and not have it during an event, you also don’t want to waste overages. While this is fairly simple to resolve for goods like beverages or appliances, it becomes much more complicated when you’re holding an in-store sampling of food items and other perishables. 

How Are You Judging Value? 

You also want to think about how you’re calculating the ROI of in-store promotion events. Are you basing value on sales made from or during the event? Are you comparing the cost of holding the event against your monthly sales of a specific product? Is the event’s purpose to drive traffic to a particular store or area of a store? 

The ways in which you measure the value of an event against the goals of an in-store retail marketing opportunity can greatly color how you view its success. This is why it’s always a good idea to take a step back and consider all of the aspects of the event, its purpose, and its outcome instead of just thinking about its costs and revenue activity. 

Compare In-Store Marketing Figures Against Other Forms of Marketing 

In comparing costs and conversion rates, it’s also advisable to view this data in comparison with other marketing strategies. If you’ve had any experience with digital marketing campaigns involving paid ads and search engine optimization (SEO), pull out those numbers and compare your customer acquisition costs against the conversion rates you experienced through an in-store marketing event. 

Promotion management software will likely come in handy here as the software can crunch the numbers and provide you with clear data. You will likely find that the costs involved in digital marketing are quite a bit higher than those of field marketing and a store demo when all aspects are factored in evenly. Of course, this all depends on your administrative costs of store demo coordination, and these can vary from store to store and product to product. In general, however, the amount of marketing spend involved in digital marketing tends to be higher despite digital marketing not always be as effective. 

Remember that digital marketing can target specific web user demographics, but ads can only hold someone’s attention for a few seconds. As stated above, in-store marketing events are a personal branding experience through which consumers have the chance to not only see and touch products but also have the ability to interact with brand ambassadors. Whether these people are your employees or professionals you’ve contracted with, the point remains the same – the experience is more intimate, and as a result, may be more valuable and lasting. 

Are In-Store Marketing Demo Events Worth the Cost? 

At the end of the day, determining whether holding in-store sampling and marketing events is worth the cost comes down to the unique factors that affect your business, industry, and location. For most business owners, holding these events is profitable both in the short term and in the long term, especially when you rely on promotion management software to plan, organize and analyze your efforts without adding any headcount. Seizing in-person opportunities and gaining a captive audience that is already in the venue where your products are for sale hastens the purchasing decision and can lead to more and faster sales. Ignoring these opportunities simply because you fear they will cost too much may mean that you’re missing out on potential sales while also missing out on important branding opportunities that can have a much larger impact on future sales, word-of-mouth advertising, social media viral sharing, online review marketing and much more.