Who doesn’t love a free sample while they shop? Drawing in shoppers to your market over the holidays by making their shopping experience enjoyable is more important than ever as online groceries continue to lure away shoppers.
On top of that, sampling sells, plain and simple. November through January is one of the best times to attract shoppers’ attention with in-store sampling and food demos. Super Bowl Sunday provides an opportunity to boost deli platter sales in the cold and dreary month of January.
Customers will be making extra shopping trips November through January to shop for holiday dinners and parties. Offering festive sampling and food demo events is a great way to differentiate your market from the online retailers and help build a connection with your local shoppers. When compared to online stores, offering in-store samples, food demonstrations, holiday sampling events, and even special educational tasting event workshops are all proven ways to distinguish the upside of in-store shopping vs. online. And, in-store shoppers can pick up milk, wine, dessert, or pet food while they're sampling and shopping for dinner.
"It really comes down to making shoppers happy. When shoppers walk the perimeter of the store and get to try new products, talk to store associates, learn new cooking techniques, shopping becomes fun. Having fun makes customers happy, and happy customers tend to buy more. “
- Graeme McVie, VP of Business Development Precima, a division of LoyaltyOne
1) Lovin’ Local at Your Community Market
Your retail market is a natural place to promote local offerings and seasonal flavors from local farmers, vendors, and vintners. Why not enhance the good feeling of supporting your local vendors by bringing in local representatives to engage with your shoppers about local offerings. Online vendors can’t offer this personal touch, which can help your community feel good when they shop locally at your store. Be sure to highlight what’s locally sourced in your holiday meal and catering menus too.
2) Leveraging Web to Promote Fun In-Store Events
Highlight holiday sampling and in-store cooking demonstration schedules through both traditional and online social media. Host a holiday sampling party! We love this ‘A Taste of Thanksgiving at Whole Foods Market’ Facebook event invite with a photo of hard-to-resist holiday side dishes.Be sure to leverage the web to promote in-store meal kit sampling events by offering in-store deals such as free milk or $2 off wine or dessert with a 2-meal purchase. Did you know that 75% of consumer purchase decisions occur in store? *
3) Excite Shoppers with In-Store Samples
Positioning a friendly server to hand out samples and engage with your shoppers is another way to create feel-good experiences to keep your customers coming back. The server can answer questions about the ingredients, prep time, and also help move the shopper to purchase additional items which would compliment what’s being sample. It’s also an opportunity to offer the customer special in-store deals or special offers, such as buy 3 and get 4th free.
In-store sampling can increase sales of the sampled product by as much as 300% on the day of the promotion. *
Lessen shoppers' stress and anxiety about holiday meals and cocktail parties by offering festive samples of your pre-made dishes, meal kits, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts. Offering samples gives your shoppers confidence and reassurance in knowing that they’re serving something delicious - obviously a missing component of online shopping.
4) On Trend: Pairing & Sampling Mini-Workshops
Specialty food sampling classes and workshops are also gaining popularity amongst specialty food retailers and markets. Why not try offering a ‘sample & learn’ mini-workshop to invite your shoppers to spend more time both sampling and learning about specialty and artisan products.Promoting workshop or class sign-ups via facebook, instagram, and twitter is an innovative way to invite new and existing shoppers to sample your products and holiday offerings in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Workshop prices range from free to $125 and local suppliers, farmers and vintners may be interested in contributing food, wine and/or a representative for your event to help offset associated costs. We simply loved the ‘Cheese & Wine 101’ workshop at our local Fishers Cheese & Wine store held in September which offered new and existing shoppers the opportunity to taste and sample cheese and wine & grab special in-store holiday promotions.
5) Indulging in In-Store Impulse Gift Purchases
Who can resist charming displays of enticing gift ideas for easy holiday and hostess gift giving when on their way to the produce department? Encourage holiday gourmet food gift buying by locating a sampling station near your store deli or butcher department. Samples of local artisan jams, cheeses, spreads, sauces, and chutneys provide the perfect distraction to shoppers waiting in line for service.
Sampling builds confidence in purchasing new specialty and locally sourced gourmet products as gifts. Consider offering pre-wrapped food items in bows or boxed gift sets for effortless holiday shopping.
Holiday shoppers who leave your store feeling like they had an enjoyable and engaging shopping experience are more likely to come back to shop again... and refer your market to their friends and family.
Learn more about compostable vs. biodegradable and how you can replace single-use plastic utensils greener alternatives such a sustainable, 100% compostable eco-friendly products from EcoTensil. This includes the EcoTaster, a silky-smooth paperboard tasting spoon, the EcoSpoon, or the Eco-iScoop for sampling frozen desserts like ice cream and frozen yogurt and custard.