Nothing unites us quite like food, and if you think about it, all big occasions centre around food: birthdays, weddings, funerals, Christenings, and well, Christmas.
The festive season is a busy, lucrative time of the year. It is estimated that households in Ireland will spend, on average, €2,700 per family on Christmas shopping this year. Last year the Irish population spent €90 million on groceries over the festive period, and in preparation, brands have been planning all year for this busy retail period. The shops are all decked out and the shoppers are stepping into gear to prepare for their family festivities. Their choices are abundant. More than they can psychologically process. While buying new brands that you don’t know can be enticing, it’s not a risk consumers are likely to adopt at this time of the year. The safe strategy is to stick to what they know, and this is why products and brands need to think about how they can get consumers excited.
The benefit of product sampling is well documented and it should be no surprise that instore food sampling is one of the most effective retail strategies a food brand can have during the festive period. 88% of customers admit that they would not have bought a product had they not first sampled it. The more samples, the more sales.
It sounds simple enough. But when it comes to food, a lot of people can be very fussy, have certain allergies and generally expect an extraordinarily high level of service and hygiene.
Having experienced staff to deliver on these expectations instore is crucial for success. They need to be able to read consumers and to adapt their pitch based on what they see in the consumer trolley. Being a knowledgeable foodie who understands about the ingredients used in the products that they are sampling goes a long way to persuading the consumers to try that one bite. The good thing about the festive period is that people tend to be open to more experiences instore. Food sampling also creates a stopping point in the shopping journey, a common talking point which creates a sense of camaraderie among customers, and a feeling of wellbeing, which adds to the festive feel.
The presentation of the food is as essential as the taste and the flavour. It needs to appeal to all our senses. Food that is beautifully presented tempts us into wanting to taste it. Hygiene is a critically important element of instore food sampling. Consumers very quickly make assumptions about the standard of hygiene by how the food is displayed, the cleanliness of the stand and surrounding store, and the food hygiene protective clothing being worn by the staff. If these meet their standards they are more willing to indulge the temptation of tasting something new.
Offering in-store food sampling is an opportunity to reframe a consumer’s perception of a product, and in turn, to create new advocates for the brand. It’s an opportunity for the customers to experience something new with no obligation to purchase. It’s an opportunity for engagement and exchange, to unite us over food even if it is only one bite.
At FMI, we work all year with our clients to plan out effective in-store food sampling demonstrations. Our teams have loads of fun and exciting ways to share about how your food brand can unite customers. Get in touch today to learn more.