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The power of sampling in foodservice

Ok, honest question: when was the last time you went to the grocery store on a big sampling day and didn’t try something? Did you get the cheese with the toothpick? Did you try a sip of that on-sale wine?

Bite-sized, big results

Sampling is a valuable tool used heavily in retail settings to drive awareness and purchase. However, it’s underutilized by foodservice manufacturers, and they’re in for a big opportunity by getting on board. When used properly, sampling can be a very powerful way to convert operators and create long-lasting sales.

According to a report on In-Store Sampling Effectiveness, sampled items in multiple categories showed an average of +475% cumulative sales lift on the day of the event. In addition, the data reveals significant potential for repeat purchases.

Send in the samples

Time and time again, we hear the same thing from operators: they’ll always try a product if it’s given to them. These folks are often hands-on, creative chefs themselves. If the product is right in front of them, they can use their imaginations and get a first-hand look at the potential it holds.

In fact, one operator we worked with loved his sauce sample so much, he switched distributors at a future restaurant just to be able to purchase it!

Go ahead, give it a try

If you’re a foodservice manufacturer and aren’t leveraging samples for your new products, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Limit your samples: Control costs and drive urgency by making only a certain number available if promoting via paid media or email.
  • Give ‘em enough: If a sample’s too small, an operator may not get the full picture— make there’s plenty of product for them to work with.
  • Maximize leads: Ensure you’re capturing operator leads so you can follow up with a sales call or additional offers.
  • Priority mail: If budgets allows, force ship samples to a select group of high-potential operators and follow up with an email or phone call to get their feedback. Consider providing a full case so operators can also see the packaging, case size and storage.
  • Ready for launch: With new product launches, ensure you’re allocating a portion of your budget for broker samples. And if the product is refrigerated or frozen, provide them with a branded cooler bag for operator sales calls.

Speaking of samples: want a taste of how we can help you drive trial with a new product launch? Contact Anita Nelson at to get started!

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