USPS Offers Discount on Samples

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Some 63% of consumers look for interesting mail, USPS says.
Some 63% of consumers look for interesting mail, USPS says.

From Aug. 1 to Sept. 30, product marketers will receive 5% off delivery of trial-sized samples. Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) introduced a program called Simple Samples that offered flat-rate pricing, volume discounts, and eliminated the need for outer packaging.  Now, convinced that CPG marketers are making a bad bet by scaling down sampling programs, the USPS's new products marketers are cutting rates in an attempt to get them back into the game.

“We're trying to re-invigorate product sampling through the mail and we figure there's no better way to do it than to offer a promotion,” says Lisa Bobb-Semple, manager of lightweight parcels at USPS. “We're focused on trial-sized samples, because research shows they convert sales better and we want to encourage brand managers who aren't doing it to try it.”

In a presentation at the National Postal Forum (NPF) in March, Bobb-Semple urged mailers to get back into sampling, citing an Arbitron study stating that 75% of consumers become aware of a product by receiving a sample and 60% buy a product after sampling it. She also quoted a study from sales and marketing solutions provider Acosta saying that 65% of people prefer getting samples in the mail and a USPS survey finding that 63% of consumers look for interesting mail and set it aside to investigate later.

Trial-sized sampling has tailed off, Bobb-Semple says, because of pricing increases instituted several years ago. Many manufacturers switched to sending samples in packets or sachets that fit in envelopes, she notes, even though they lost the direct brand association offered by a miniature package.

Look for more sampling-oriented promotions from the USPS in the year ahead. “We are exploring other ways to re-invigorate usage,” Bobb-Semple says. “We're looking at creative ways, for instance, to get sampling back into the minds of consumers.”

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