How to Sample and Product Launch in a Covid safe way for your Business

September 21st 2020

The world of marketing is an ever-changing, constantly evolving place.

However, it has never had to evolve and adapt as quickly as it has this year, in 2020.

With the pandemic bringing uncertainty to the world, and strict social distancing guidelines being put into action, businesses have had to look at their marketing strategies a lot more differently and consider new, sometimes radical methods of getting their messages and products out into the world.

Before Coronavirus, the process of sampling and reviewing of products by the general public was easy and relatively straightforward. For example, in certain food shops or markets, you might be offered a small sample of a food product to taste. In beauty sections of big stores, you could try out certain products like make-up. With social distancing guidelines, lockdowns and concerns about sanitation and hygiene, these things are just no longer possible.

It is the same with product launches. To launch a major product, businesses would normally put on a sizeable event, involving lots of people, including their target audience. Legal guidelines now do not allow for large groups of people to gather together so this type of thing is also no longer possible.

So, how can we use sampling and product launching in a Covid-19 world? Here are some of the ways it might just be possible.


Social Media/Email Marketing

Half the journey of launching a product is telling the story and with social media, email marketing, and other digital marketing tools, you can do just that.

Companies can release teaser posts and social media stories way before a product is due to launch, just to start building up intrigue with their customer audiences. Email marketing and blogging are both effective ways of keeping the intrigue and suspense going until the actual launch. They are also fantastic means of reaching out to their customers and empathising with them on things that are going on.

Campaign Monitor gives an excellent example of this by showing the shoe brand, Nisolo. This brand used their email marketing campaigns to check in with their audiences and clearly showing they care in their text with everything going on. Even though they gently introduce their new product at the end of the email, they do it in such a way that it would never be considered a sales pitch.


Virtual Events/Virtual Reality Platforms

Video conferencing has had growing popularity over the years but even more so since the beginning of the pandemic.

Platforms such as Zoom, FaceTime and Skype are being used now more than ever by business owners, people who are having to work from home, even educational institutions such as universities, colleges, and schools. Video conferencing could very well be the perfect platform to launch certain products and services in a visual capacity, rather than a physical one. Who knows, Willy Wonka may have been onto something!

Virtual reality is also making a dramatic debut into the world of marketing. Cosmetic Design states that many beauty companies are jumping on the virtual bandwagon. Enterprises such as Avon have released a fully interactive, digital catalogue for its audiences. Not only will users be able to shop from this catalogue, they will actually be able to virtually try on a lot of the products which is obviously a gamechanger in not only hygiene and sanitation but also financial in that there is no wastage of physical samples.

Other businesses, such as hair styling and clothing brands, allow the user to upload a photograph of themselves and ‘try on’ their desired styles.


Roadshow Trucks

These have been around now for years, and some would say, have the whole social distancing thing in the bag.

The whole roadshow idea is that the company go to their target audiences, not the other way round. The products can then either be viewed and sampled outside and around the truck or inside if the proper guidelines are met. EMS – The Roadshow Experts state that their “roadshow trucks are COVID-secure. A primary focus is that everyone that steps on board feel the environment is safe. EMS always adhere to specific Government advice and have created a process focused around three key pillars:

  • Thorough Vehicle Cleaning & Sanitisation after each use/visit
  • Provision of Visitor PPE
  • Social Distancing – Integral to Customer Journey”


Drive-Thru Sampling

You’ve heard of McDonalds drive-thru, how about drive-thru sampling?

Three Wishes utilised this method for the testing of their new breakfast cereal, instead of the usual handing out of samples in their stores. They turned their U-shaped driveway into a makeshift drive-thru and marketed what they were going to do via signs and social media. They handed out sealed samples to those who came and used appropriate PPE as well as tongs, so they never physically handled the food.

This could be a fantastic new way of sampling products if social distancing guidelines are adhered to, as well as suitable hygiene and sanitation practices.


Interactive Vending Machines

You’ve probably seen these enigmas stationed in various areas around busy city centres.

The general point of them is to attract their ideal consumer and get them to try out samples of their product in exchange for some kind of prize. A recent campaign by Pepsi, for example, showed the launch of their new ginger flavoured soft drink. They stationed a giant Pepsi can style vending machine in certain areas of London over a period of time with reps handing out cans of the drink. After trying out the new drink, the consumer would input their thoughts about it into the machine and they would win a prize ranging from branded merchandise to gig and festival tickets.

You can see the full case study here.

This is a new and exciting way of getting people interested and involved in trying out products and can ultimately be carried out with suitable guidelines in place.


They are some of the methods we have seen over this year and we expect to see many more different ways in the coming months.


Would you use any of these for your business?