Sampling is a great activity which induces trials. I have known this since I joined marketing. I have seen it happen and even enjoyed the benefits of conversion of consumers through sampling. But this was in case of food. Once people like the taste of it, you can expect the person to desire for the food next time he sees it or remembers it.
Does the same apply to other categories?
Of course yes! Sampling helps induce trial everywhere. That’s why you would often get those 1 month free trials from companies like Netflix. Now trials for Netflix are one thing, what about the shows on Netflix? How do they induce people to try new shows?
Advertising is the most obvious answer
Advertising is the first thing that pops to the mind. That’s the most obvious thing one would do to catch the attention of potential viewers. Advertise the shows on Youtube, on Netflix itself and other relevant media. Create catchy trailers that show the best memorable scenes. You could actually get bombarded with a variety of shows when you go to watch youtube videos. So, yes, advertising is an option.
But suppose you have a host of shows and you do not want to spend much on advertising. On top of it, the conversion rate and the return on marketing investment is always a question. If you were responsible for marketing the shows, how would you go about it?
Just sample the shows within other shows
I use Netflix to watch shows often. I usually choose those shows which others have watched and that which many people recommend. I am that hard to sell to. But of late, I have been watching DC and Marvel shows one after the other. And some of them are shows which have been around for quite a while now. I never once felt like watching them despite the advertising bombarded at me. But once I started one show, the rest fell like a set of dominoes, all due to the heroes from other shows appearing in some special episodes in each series. It got me wondering how sneakily clever it was of these guys to make me want to watch their shows.
I started watching DC comics Flash first. Well, made sense to me, Flash is my top favourite after Batman in DC universe. My good intentions were to stop watching once I complete this. But in between, DC introduced me to Arrow, DC Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. And the stories were interwoven so perfectly that it inevitably got me curious about the other superheroes and where their stories would lead to in their respective shows.
So, after Flash, I started watching the Legends of Tomorrow show and then went on to Arrow. Great sampling activity led to me becoming a heavy consumer.
Marvel does the same in its shows. In fact, Marvel I started with Defenders. It is an amazing show which brings 4 heroes together: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Well, like I said before, they all fell like a pack of dominoes for me. After I finished the Defenders, I went on to watch all of these, and am almost about to finish Daredevil.
I thought Daredevil would be the last show I would spend time on. But hey, I might think I am done, but Marvel isn’t done with me. In season 2, they introduced The Punisher.
Now, mind you, I had seen the billboards and adverts for The Punisher umpteen times ages ago. But I never ever felt like watching it. But after Daredevil season 2, Marvel has successfully induced a trial on me and I have become familiar with the character. So, now, I have decided that once I finish Daredevil seasons, I will catch up with Punisher. There you go: Sampling mission accomplished.
Sampling is the most effective tool for inducing trials and converting consumers
So, that has been the key takeaway for me in all these years from my experience. As a marketing enthusiast, I can’t help but notice that this is a stellar example of how sampling is so effective in inducing trials. We often invest a lot of money into advertising and it creates awareness. But what gives the final tug to the consumer to make him/her buy is the experience and familiarity to the product.
This is how we do it for food products also. We always strive to induce trials by sampling. We either do it by posting people in key locations and offering free sample to people to taste, or in some cases, we sample our product within the packaging of other star products which are already widely available. The second method is pretty much akin to the DC/Marvel technique of introducing characters with their own shows in existing popular shows, in order to familiarize the viewer with the new character. And it is a powerful technique. It worked well on me.
Going on to watch The Punisher now.