Smart alternatives to sampling during COVID-19

A lot of businesses were affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, that’s no secret, but some of them had to suffer a lot, especially during the lockdown. Supermarkets are on the ‘victims’ list, as it wasn’t enough that the flow of clients was seriously affected since governments recommended staying at home and, if possible, do your shopping online, but they were also forced to stop all sampling campaigns during COVID-19, for example. 

Yes, things were that rough and we weren’t surprised at seeing some locations even closing their doors for undetermined periods. But hey, the show must go on and business must go back to normal while respecting social distancing and the entire set of measures imposed by governments. In this scenario, we wondered what could happen with some of the regular promotional campaigns, like sampling, since we’ve already mentioned it, we were used to seeing in supermarkets before the lockdown? 

The answer is simple: Improvise, adapt, overcome. 

Specifically, brands are already rethinking the way they are doing in-store promotions by implementing some witty alternative campaigns, designed in such a way that they respect all social distancing and safety measures, while also making sure that their messages reach the right audience. 

Sounds pretty cool, right? And trust us, you shouldn’t worry that much about product sampling, as these in-store promotions ideas have everything it takes to put a big grin on any customer’s face. 

Therefore, let’s see what a bit of creativity combined with marketing genius can do, shall we?

AR is your friend

Augmented reality has been around for some time and some retailers have been putting it to great work, managing to come up with some ridiculously good campaigns. And something tells us that now it’s the best time to use AR in supermarkets and make those classic sampling campaigns - but with good results, don’t get us wrong - forgotten. 

Let’s take beauty retailer Sephora, for example, who created a 3D, augmented reality-based mirror, thus giving customers the possibility to see how cosmetics would look on them without actually applying something on their faces. 

Sure, this is just a use case for AR in retail, meaning that it can easily be adapted for supermarkets! Walmart did it back in 2018, for Christmas, when shoppers were encouraged to scan codes through the chain’s app, to unlock exclusive AR experiences featuring some of the brands available in its offer. Yes, shoppers weren’t able to try products, but they were able to see them interacting with the environment and it was just enough for this campaign to be a real hit for Walmart!

These are some great starting points, if you ask us, and can easily replace sampling in a post-COVID-19 world. After all, almost everybody who enters a supermarket has a smartphone capable of delivering a top AR experience, so why not give it a shot?

Flashy displays aren’t going anywhere


We’ve all seen them as they’re in every supermarket. But screens can now be one of the best alternatives to sampling campaigns if used well. 

Generally speaking, displays show a static ad or, sometimes, an actual ad of the product they’re trying to promote. Nothing special, of course, since most shoppers usually ignore them and mind their groceries session. But if the content shown on these displays is improved, they can successfully replace sampling campaigns!

Costco is one of the supermarket chains to look at, as they had an excellent in-store sampling approach before the pandemic, which turned into a planned activity for many shoppers. However, things changed a bit and they can’t rely very much on brand ambassadors who know everything about the products they’re promoting and are enthusiastic about them since this doesn’t fall in line with the social distancing measures we need to take. But hey, the flashy displays are still alive and kickin’. 

Ok, but what should shoppers see on those screens? 

Well, product demos, of course, in an attempt to educate and entertain, at the same time.

We know, it’s easy to talk and difficult to implement, but you can experiment in the first place. After seeing what kind of content makes shoppers tingle and buy the advertised products you can improve the process and deliver even better stuff in terms of product demos!

Opt for a touchless, safe and engaging shelf display


Sounds too good to be true? In this case, we have some good news: this alternative to sampling really exists and we’re so damn proud of it. 

Tokinomo, the ultimate customer engagement device, as we like to call it, does more than just presenting a product! The multi-sensory experience it creates for the shopper, with the help of motion, sound, and light is almost impossible to ignore, no matter how concentrated on their shopping lists they are. 

The idea is simple: customers heavily rely on their feelings when choosing a product, not just facts. Through sampling, these two aspects can be influenced. But, uhm, COVID-19 and increased safety measures happened and sampling is something you barely see. So why not let Tokinomo’s light, sound, and motion capabilities create new emotional connections with shoppers?

If you ask us, this is the perfect alternative to sampling and the only one able to transform any product in a storyteller for its brand. Why is this so important? Because it manages to create that so-craved-after emotional connection between the buyer and the brand, which, once completed, transforms them into trusty clients or, why not, brand ambassadors.

Of course, these are just three examples of how sampling campaigns can be replaced in supermarkets nowadays as, after all, imagination has no limits and we’re convinced that some locations will come up with some great ideas themselves!

As a side note, we won’t be surprised to see these alternatives working some well and making retailers implementing them into their long-term strategies. They do have what it takes, let’s be honest. 

Speaking about ideas, we are very curious to find out your thoughts on our selection and, obviously, do let us know if you are thinking about or using alternatives to sampling yourself, with great results. The comments section is waiting so make sure to drop off a few lines


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