Top 10 Promotional Tasting Checklist Items

A product tasting program is an effective strategy for enticing consumers to purchase your brand. Make sure you remember these ten steps before setting up your tastings!

Walk into any grocery store or beer distributor on a late Friday afternoon and you’re likely to see a brand ambassador offering a tasting of a new product to hit either the store or the market. Why are these promotional events so ubiquitous? Because they work! After all, if a consumer tries a product and enjoys it, they’re going to come back for more. Likely this means purchasing the item during their shopping trip and hopefully this will result in them repeating their purchase for years. While a standard tasting event may seem easy enough to set up and execute, proper planning is critical not only to generate sales but also to ensure the safety of customers.

1. Fresh is Best Nobody likes to waste money, especially when it comes to an experiential marketing program. While it may be easy, convenient and cost-effective to simply carry over any leftover brand to the next tasting event, it’s important to know that the product must be kept in optimal conditions (sealed, refrigerated, etc.) to maintain quality. Maintain a consistent policy for the use of leftover samples and always budget to allow for new product to be purchased for each event. Alternatively, you can send out smaller-sized units of product to your team for sampling use only.

2. Real Estate is Key Don’t wait until the start of the tasting event to determine where to set up your tasting display. Surprisingly, the best locations to place your demo table aren’t near the product’s location on the shelf. Place your table near the front entrance of the store or account to catch consumers before they have a chance to select their purchases. Also, be sure not to set up your table where it can cause a bottleneck of shoppers.

3. Product and Pricing While the brand itself may provide giveaway items such as branded sunglasses, t-shirts, koozies and other items, it’s important to load up your table with product for sale as well! After all, once the consumer has committed to buying, you don’t want to leave it to them to wander the aisles to find the product, during which they may neglect to purchase as they are distracted by finding the items they came to shop for. Also, be sure to place signage on the display table informing the consumers of the price. It’s better to be upfront and honest about the price before the consumer encounters sticker shock when they arrive at the register.

4. ID Checking Policy This one may seem simple enough for alcoholic beverage tastings, but it’s often overlooked by both accounts, brand and their tasting reps. Verifying that all consumers are at least 21 years old is not only important for the safety of consumers but also for compliance with the law. The best way to do this is by providing a standard policy for all tastings, such as checking the ID of everyone under 30 or by requiring ID of anyone receiving a sample. Remember that the brand ambassador serving the sample is not only responsible for making sure that they are only serving to those 21 and over but are also the ones who will be held liable if they do.

5. Offer a Sale Price or Discount Often times, a consumer may love your product but not be ready to purchase then and there, perhaps because the price is higher than they can afford or they already have too much of a similar product at home. Be sure to place a sale price or discount on your item when purchased that day. Instilling a little “fear of missing out” due to potential sell-out of the item or the possibility of needing to pay more later may be just the nudge the consumer needs to take an item home with them that day.

6. Dressing For Both Safety and Success 
While a branded t-shirt and hat will serve to promote your brand to consumers, other items such as hairnets, masks and gloves will let your consumers know that your product’s sample is protected from contaminants. Depending on the item and its presentation, be sure to equip your team with the proper attire for the demo. 7. Sample Preparation and Complimentary Items Does your product function ideally when complimented with another product, such as tonic with gin? Creating cocktail samples can be a fun and engaging way to present your product to consumers, but the same rules apply as our first tip: use fresh, quality and preferably name-brand products during your demo.

8. Safety First! Always set up your promo table in such a manner as to prevent injury to yourself and to consumers. Unless you’re at a large public event with lots of traffic coming to your table, never set out samples where consumers could potentially cross-contaminate multiple samples by coughing or touching. Never leave sharp objects out. Be sure your tablecloth doesn’t pose a tripping hazard. Be sure to keep liquids in a safe place to prevent spills that could create a slipping hazard. This list could go on for quite a while, but the important takeaway is to look for potential hazards during the setup process.

9. Keep It Simple, Stupid! Tasting events can be a logistical nightmare between scheduling, moving around supplies and coordinating staffing schedules. When you combine multiple or complicated promotional offers to the mix, the process becomes much more difficult and time-consuming. The two things that should sell your product are the consumers’ enjoyment of it and their positive interaction with the brand ambassador. One giveaway item, call to action or discount per promotion will often be enough to get you the results you want.

10. Taking Out The Trash A small trash can, trash bag and paper towels should be standard in the brand ambassador’s supply kit, not only to ensure that the tasting area remains clean but also for easy cleanup once the demo has concluded. It’s never guaranteed that the account will have these items available, either.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above article is not legal advice and is only intended to be a general guide regarding nationwide alcohol laws and regulations. These laws vary greatly among states and municipalities and are also constantly being changed and amended. Before engaging in any alcohol promotions, it is advised to consult with an attorney that specializes in alcoholic beverage marketing, sale and consumption in the market where the product is being served. All information contained in this article is subject to change without notice. Polaris Brand Promotions LLC, its employees, agents and representatives are not liable for the content of this article as well as any errors or omissions contained within.

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