For Brands: Sampling Isn’t Cancelled, How to Drive Product Trial in 2021

For years, people in the food industry have relied on large events and tradeshows get their products in the hands of their consumer. But this past year showed us how to grow, or get by, and sample without many of these go-to events. 

While we all hope for events to resume as safely as possible this year, we know they will likely look different, they may still be virtual, and many brands will choose not to attend. (We’ve already heard of events being cancelled and FNCE just announced it will be virtual again this year). If your team has been struggling with how to sample without your usual slate of in-person events, keep reading for a few creative ideas we’ve seen and done this past year which may spark some inspiration.

For food and beverage companies, tasting is believing and it really is essential in growing a brand. Tasting is essential for getting buy-in and true taste testimony for your products. So the good news is, while events may be cancelled or virtual or still unknown, sampling isn’t cancelled

Last year, we saw first hand the power of connecting with influential individuals, experts, and target consumers to get products in the hands of consumers. Here at Link, we helped brands send products out to dietitians to not only introduce them to the product but to share the products with their clients and audiences. 

Like other industries, dietitians had to adapt and evolve to meet their clients’ needs this past year. So while Expo West was cancelled and FNCE moved online, dietitians were still sharing product samples with their clients, featuring products in virtual cooking demos, including samples in school lunches, donating snacks to libraries, and putting together family meal kits to help during the crazy times. They made it work and still had a generous need for products to share because clients and their audiences are always in need of delicious products that meet various nutrient and/or ingredient requirements.

So, we know the opportunities for sampling are out there – all it takes is a bit of creativity, strategy, and networking.  Below are a few ideas for how you can get your products in the right hands no matter what this new year brings. AND, hey, maybe you’ll like some of the new ways of getting samples to your target audience, even more than in-person events?!

How you can still get your product in the right hands, no matter what 2021 brings

  1. Know your audience
    Where does your consumer hang out, who do they follow, where do they shop? Whether you are targeting a specific location or demographic – think about who or what influences these people in their everyday life. Contact these people and places and ask how you can help to support them. 
  2. Think local
    Think smaller and more personal rather than mass outreach or general ad campaigns. This year we’re seeing people want more of a connection with the brand and the brand story. Reach out to organizations where your target audience hangs out – libraries, schools, sports teams, gyms, doctor’s offices, dental offices, DIETITIANS (for example).
  3. Move offline
    Now nearly a year into working from home and many people are feeling the tech-burnout. They want to work with and engage with people and things offline. Give consumers a break from looking at their screens. People want to see and touch and taste your product, they don’t want to just see your logo slapped up on a virtual conference banner. 
  4. Get on Link or Contact Us to help
    Through the Link platform brands gain access to not only media and sponsorship opportunities but to sampling events and opportunities too. RDs are still hosting in-person and virtual cooking classes and events and are seeking coupons and samples to share with clients. On Link, we currently have a lot of great opportunities with retail, corporate wellness, and private practice RDs for product sampling.
    Link brands also get access to our RD database where they can filter the RDs by industry, speciality, and location to find the best-fit RDs for the brand. Brands use this to target RDs in key markets, find RDs that align with their brand message, and more.
    We also help brands with targeted outreach and sampling campaigns to sample to their target consumer. Ask us for more info or sign up for your free Link trial here!

The Benefits of RD Sampling (What is an RD recommendation worth to you?)

We, of course, recommend getting your product in the hands of consumers through nutrition experts. RDs make food recommendations all day long and reach consumers in endless ways. 

Many companies tell us that a product recommendation backed by an RD is 3 times more valuable to them than that of any other recommendation. The reason being, RDs offer your brand instant credibility and trust. They are the true nutrition experts and have multiple years of schooling and working with many different types of clients. They know nutrition, how the body works, how nutrients work together, ingredients, and SO MUCH MORE. 

Through sampling with RDs you target those who are actively interested in health and wellness.

For more information on how to sample with RDs, take a look at the other articles linked below.

Are RDs right for my brand?

Working with experts to help you stand out in the better for you space

How covid has impacted RDs (from the early covid days but still relevant)

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