It’s a question I am asked frequently by enlightened brand managers and owners, who are keen to make the most of their modest marketing budgets. Here’s a summarised run down that applies to almost any food and drink brand that’s considering where to take their brand in 2018 if they want to generate a measurable return on investment.

Top 5 of 5: National Convenience Show

2018 is a unique year for retail focused food and drink trade shows. The largest show in the industry (IFE) is biennial, flowering into a sprawling feast every two years with 2019 being the next incarnation. The reliable stalwart of the cash and carry trade ProRetail has crashed along with Palmer and Harvey’s delivery trucks; so what’s left? The expression ‘power doesn’t leave a vacuum’ rings true; so the influence of April’s National Convenience Show is magnified, as the last man standing.

If you’ve felt that trade shows haven’t yet delivered the return that you’d hoped for, you may do well to first question the game plan you brought to it, rather than the show itself. Like so many inexperienced sampling campaigns, giving away your valuable products for free without the strategy to build your return on investment can be a costly waste of time. Each event should be (1) an opportunity to communicate your brand via a memorable experience, (2) offer a trade discount deal that is simply too strong to pass up; and (3) work in a compelling reason for everyone to leave their contact details with you, so you walk away with thousands of new prospects to put into your long term lead nurturing plan.

CASE STUDY PHOTO SUMMARY: Sparkling Ice sampling tour covers all of the major food and drink industry trade shows, acquiring new listings and contacts at each. 

Top 4 of 5: Media House Event Days

For anyone who owns a smart phone, you know how addictive all of those social media feeds are, and difficult to break away from. Millions of us all spend hours of our waking lives, deeply absorbed into the little screens, reading, liking, sharing and exploring content from all corners of our world. Rather than try to attain screen time by posting yet another photo of a fluffy kitten with a ‘wahey it’s Friday’ slogan; you can let the media owners post their recommendation about your brand for you.

While there are several prominent media organisations across the UK, London is still the central hub for many of the most influential consumer and trade media. If you have found that busy journalists just don’t have the time (or the will) to attend your press event; you can take your brand experience on the road, and position your sampling experience, roadshow trailer or pop up event – right in front of their front doors. Who hasn’t got time for a free lunch if all they have to do is pop downstairs for it? And when those media giants tweet about your brand, it has the power to reach millions.

CASE STUDY PHOTO SUMMARY: KFC created a vintage styled Airstream catering trailer to tour across leading media houses, promoting their new lunch range, attaining huge coverage.

KFC Case Study – Experiential Sampling University Student Roadshow with Facebook, Twitter Social Media Integration

Top 3 of 5: New Stockists

Any food or drink brand builder or entrepreneur knows that new retail listings don’t come round that often. Many brands spend so long courting retail buyers over months and more often years, that when they finally make a break through and secure a little shelf space they feel like they’ve finally made it. In fact, the sad truth is that all they have managed to achieve for their brand is to enter the retail battlefield. They’ve not yet started to fight for their market share or indeed win any strategic battles against the established category leaders.

Nurturing these seedling opportunities with an effective promotional sampling and sales activation plan is vital. Without it, the newly listed brands just sit on a lonely shelf, largely ignored by the masses and mistrusted by those who do glance at it. It’s no wonder that 90% of newly listed brands are de-listed within a year, as those less experienced at driving sales growth have failed to create the impact needed. By focusing the promotional activity at new stockists you can show both the new shoppers and the new retail buyers that you’re serious about creating real growth for your brand with that stockist.

CASE STUDY PHOTO SUMMARY: Kellogg’s new Nuts & More Bar utilised roaming sampling teams in front of busy WHSmith stockists, to drive awareness and sales of their newly listed bar.

Top 2 of 5: Targeted Consumer Events

There’s no denying the mass proliferation of modern media; no marketier in their right mind still thinks that a prime time spot on Saturday night TV really does anything to grow their sales. Social media has burgeoned mainly because it is so customisable to each individual’s unique niche interests. Like Facebook groups, the immense variety of consumer events are just as individual to each consumer tribe. If you don’t know which tribes you belong to or attend their gatherings, you’ll be left out in the cold with your potential followers looking elsewhere.

Consumer events offer more than just the chance to show your face at these events. If arranged with an experienced agency, they can create relevant, sharable social media content that can last you all year; and thousands of newly made loyal followers too. If combined with some strong event show deals (like a £10 or £20 bundle) they can quickly turn into a self funding marketing roadshow, with the direct sales taken at the shows used to pay for the touring cost.

CASE STUDY PHOTO SUMMARY: Butchers Pet Food used a brand experience roadshow to present their new ranges to dog lovers at pet friendly County Shows across the UK.

…..Drum roll for….

Top 1 of 5: Tesco Supermarkets

It’s the daddy! According to Kantar’s latest 2017 research, Tesco accounts for nearly DOUBLE the UK grocery sales (28%) of the next nearest competitor: Sainsburys (16%), followed by Asda (15%).

What’s more, out of all the supermarket chains, it’s perhaps the quickest and most effective to organise high impact sampling and sales activation campaigns at. At just five weeks notice, their store booking lead time is half that of the other major players. Their store managers are super helpful, happy to provide additional shelf space on the event day. Plus their Extra stores are so large, they’re like citadels devoted to consumerism, with thousands of hungry shoppers eager to try and buy whatever catches their eye.

It’s no wonder that effectively planned sampling roadshows across Tesco’s stores can achieve immediate sales uplifts of up to 500 units per store per day*. This immense uplift is then matched with the long term sales growth that secures the return in investment for your brand, for the long term.

CASE STUDY PHOTO SUMMARY: Once shoppers understand that Rustlers burgers are made with 100% British and Irish beef, is cooked on a real flame grill and is only reheated in the microwave for their convenience; it suddenly becomes a mouth watering prospect, providing the brand with large scale, sustained growth*.

Rustlers Gourmet Burgers Case Study – Experiential Car Park Sampling at Tesco Supermarket Roadshow


There are many paths that you can sample your brand at, but not all will lead to generating sales returns for you. In fact, many brands feel jaded with past sampling campaigns for this very reason. Anyone can give away your valuable product samples for free; but it takes an expert to generate a sales return from it.

For brand specific advice, creative ideas and a friendly chat – get in touch to say hi: