An Intelligent Sample

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Source: PINCHme
Source: PINCHme

Product sampling: Everyone loves it (Hey, free swag)—but it's grossly inefficient.

“It's the most effective means of promoting a consumer product [in the CPG space],” says Jeremy Reid, founder and executive chairman of PINCHme, an Australian Web service, set to launch in the United States November 12, that allows its users to select and sample products for free.

Research supports Reid's claim—the trade organization Promotional Products Association International has stated that American consumers tend to better remember advertisers, messaging, and products after sampling.

Of course, that was in 2009. Since then, digital channels have proliferated and CPGs, Reid says, are behind the curve. Essentially, they're blind to what happens after consumers sample a product. Did they like it? Did they become a loyal customer? Brands can, of course, extrapolate that a sales boost following a product sampling campaign is correlative. But in today's era of consumer-centric marketing, that all seems a bit imprecise.

It's a pain point that drove Reid to launch the PINCHme service last February, working with 50 major CPG brands, including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, and Johnson & Johnson. Consumers that sign up are incented to fill out a more in-depth profile through which brands can target segments (health products for workout warriors, for instance), and consumers can select two from a list of available products to sample for free (capping the number of samples keeps consumers interested and engaged, Reid says).

The theory behind PINCHme is that its platform provides a more efficient way for brands to sample and gain consumer insight around that sampling.

“Right now every major CPG company is focused on targeting the right consumers, ensuring they have the right engagement, and digital,” Reid says, pointing out that PINCHme touches all three of those areas.

PINCHme requires returning customers to fill out a six-question mini-survey about the product they sampled previously, then drives those insights back to the brand. Additionally, the service provides a gateway for users to purchase the product they sample—which shows whether sampling led to revenue on the PINCHme platform. In the U.S., Reid has struck up partnerships with retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreens. (Currently the platform doesn't have a price comparison feature, but Reid has been considering it).

Brands in Australia have used the platform for product launches—PINCHme helped launch a new candy product for Kraft—as well as to expand the reach of established household products. In Australia, PINCHme has done well—Reid says 2% of the Australian population were on PINCHme within four to five weeks of its launch. To date it has around a half million Australian users.

But the bigger fish—and the bigger test—is in the U.S., where PINCHme currently has 100,000 sign-ups—with the goal of reaching one million by the year's end. Australia has a population of 25 million, compared to the U.S.'s 314 million. And more potential users means a greater need to scale and to ensure PINCHme and its brand partners retain the sample inventory to reliably meet consumer demand.

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