so my good mate Mark this morning sent me thru the above pics taken whilst we were in Edinburgh a few weeks ago. during my heady couple of days of non-stop show-seeing and jumping around at the Fringe, we stumbled across a couple of brands sampling festival-goers on the Royal Mile. hence the rather delightful pics above of my good self with Fraser and Mark (who doesn't normally have a moustache but who was in a show and so has at least one good excuse)...
which brings us to the subject of sampling. when to do it, how to do it and who to do it to. I guess my brief Edinburgh experiences tell me a couple of things; one - that its essential to get the right people at the right place (no poo Sherlock) but two, that I'm not very convinced that sampling on its own is enough...
to the first point; it was sunny, we were festivalled up, having fun and running around. in that context both brands were spot on in terms of understanding who they were targeting and why. a bag of sweets and a can of sugary good stuff were perfect additions to the afternoon. for both brands, adding their fun-filled good stuff to such a positive and buzzing environment meant that they complemented and were complemented by what was going around the sampling teams.
but to my second point, what was the actual benefit of the exercise? they got brand in hand but I'm sure there's more to the opportunity than this... shouldn't both of these brands have been looking to add an experience to the sampling moment that made more of the sample's investment but also more of the person's investment in taking time to sample / experience the brand.
it is in many ways the opposite situation to that of Pot Noodle's (above) effort at last years Festival, where Mother staged a musical (which I wrote about here). great experience but what about the sampling opportunity? at the very least handing out pots of the stuff after the show... but they could have gone further - what about Edinburgh Festival limited edition Pots, or a mechanic that incorporated a sampling experience into the show.
the bottom line is that sampling and experience are increasingly part of the same equation. but not just in some strategic 'yeah cool lets join it up' way, but rather in an intrinsic, bound together, one can't and shouldn't live without the other kind of way.
a brand on which I currently work is using pop-ups shops to sample some NPD, because venturing into a space which lives and breathes what a brand stands for whilst being offered an opportunity to take a bit of that brand's product with you is infinitely more powerful than being handed it cold in the street... and when that street in Edinburgh is one of the busiest, crowded and expectant streets in the world, that's an opportunity you couldn't and shouldn't afford to miss.