Postal Service debuts product sampling service

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The US Postal Service began a product sampling initiative this week, targeting more than 250,000 consumers in Chicago, Denver and Austin, Texas, as well as about 75,000 opted-in consumers across the country. Brands including Wisk, Starbucks and Nestle are distributing products through the “Sample Showcase” program at launch.

The first round of samples will be placed into the mailstream this week and should reach consumers within the next three weeks, said Dave Lewin, PR representative at the USPS. The organization worked with sales and distribution firm StartSampling on the initiative.

The USPS' goal is to create a mutually beneficial service for marketers and consumers and to attract more corporate partners.

“Sampling is a $4 billion a year business, and there is a high correlation between consumers receiving samples and making purchases,” he said.

The Postal Service is encouraging brands to sign up for the service at the Sample Showcase website. The USPS' product managers are reaching out to other brands to court new business, said Lewin.

The Postal Service began testing a product sampling service last May in Charlotte, N.C., and Pittsburgh.

The financially struggling USPS, which lost more than $1.1 billion in February and about $8.5 billion in its 2010 fiscal year, has tried to attract more corporate mailing businesses in the past year. The organization asked private businesses last April how they could potentially partner with the USPS on a direct mail service. It also relaunched its direct mail website last November.

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