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EVENTS & PROMOTIONS; VENUE SAMPLING HOT;PROMOTE IT INT'L JOGS CONSUMER CONVERSION RATES VIA HEALTH CLUB

By Published on .

Quaker Oats co. is giving away millions of Snapple drinks in a massive sampling effort this summer, but narrowly targeted programs are hotter news for marketers.

The Promotion Marketing Association of America has reported that venue-based efforts represent one of the fastest-growing areas of sampling, as marketers seek to minimize sampling costs and maximize consumer feedback while aiming products at specific audiences predisposed to convert to new brands.

Among the fastest-growing categories are food and health and beauty aid products for health-conscious consumers. Venue-based specialty sampling programs have exploded through health clubs, hotels, specialty retail outlets and fitness events.

One contributor to the boom is Promote It International. The Lakewood, Colo., company has attracted dozens of major marketers to its network of 4,000 health clubs nationwide where Promote It sets up exclusive, single-brand sampling events.

EARNINGS ON THE RISE

Promote It's earnings have doubled in the past two years with business from brands including Jergens Shower-Active moisturizer, Helene Curtis Industries' Degree antiperspirant, Kellogg's low-fat granola Bars, Quaker toasted oatmeal, Welch's juice and CPC Specialty Markets U.S.' Knorr soups.

Key to its success: getting health clubs to run the sampling programs, minimizing waste and insuring marketers get feedback.

19% BUY AGAIN

The cost is about the same as a mass-market sampling program, about 5 cents per sample, but conversion rates-the number of people who later buy the product-average 19%, which is much higher than mass sampling programs, said Promote It President Barbie Gumman.

"We looked for venues offering consumers who already demonstrated a healthy, on-the-go lifestyle, and health clubs were a perfect fit for a sampling channel, among others, for us," said Adam Baker, a product manager at CPC, which used Promote It to help introduce Knorr instant soups. Results were strong, Mr. Baker said.

"What we provide is the direct feedback and the ability to quantify results that marketers asked for," Ms. Gumman said.

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