Brands and retailers have always known the best way to convert a consumer to purchase is by letting them try your product. But without a strategy to match the right consumer with the right products, many dollars could be wasted on samples that never get in the hands of people likely to purchase that product. Enter the rise of targeted product sampling. Companies such as Sampler (our technology partner in delivering the NEXTY Consumer Choice Awards) recognize the major market opportunity to help brands create targeted direct-to-consumer sampling. And big brands and retailers are buying in. Earlier this year, Amazon quietly piloted a targeted digital sampling program by letting brands like Maybelline and Folgers pay to send free samples to consumers—all based on what the retail giant already knows they're likely to buy.
For natural and organic brands, the opportunity to reach the right future consumers is here, and it makes good financial sense. According to a recent Nielsen/Informa study, 62% of consumers say sampling is the most effective way to get them to switch brands or try new categories, while 95% of today's product samples are untargeted and distributed in a way that makes it difficult to measure program ROI.
The NEXTY Consumer Choice Awards program gives brands an opportunity to target their sampling efforts and also receive valuable product feedback and ratings that can prove market acceptance of a product even prior to arriving at Natural Products Expo East. Not only do participating brands receive 90-day access to a portal of consumer ratings and verbatims, but all NEXTY Consumer Choice participants receive campaign report cards they can use to share insights with retailers at Natural Products Expo. The two products that receive the highest ratings in each category are named NEXTY Consumer Choice Finalists, and the product with the highest consumer approval score in each category is the NEXTY Consumer Choice Winner. So how do consumers score the products?
What's the consumer experience?
Sampler curates its database of 50 million consumers through the audiences of consumer-facing health and wellness media brands. Those media brands amplify the database with a sampling call-to-action on their websites, newsletters and social media that gives the consumer an opportunity to opt in to create an account and be matched for samples they may be interested in trying.
Consumers sign up to be matched with product samples.
Consumers are asked targeting questions that include demographics and specific questions about their shopping habits, eating style and where they shop for groceries, which Sampler uses to build the consumers' profiles.
When a consumer is matched with samples, they have an opportunity to select between one and four matches that will arrive in a direct shipment together.
After being matched with samples, consumers have 24 hours to verify and update their shipping address before sample shipments are deployed.
Consumers are prompted to rate their samples and provide feedback that is captured in a portal. Ratings and responses to questions are used to help determine the NEXTY score for each product.
During—and for 90 days after the completion of the sampling campaign—participating brands can access their analytics dashboard to check real-time tracking, as well as insight into their targeted consumers':
- demograpics (age, gender, location)
- lifestyle habits
- family insights
- ratings and reviews
- conversion to purchase
The three categories that brands can enter for the NEXTY Consumer Choice Awards are:
- Food or beverage
- Natural living or personal care product