Why CPG Brands are Doing Consumer Product Sampling All Wrong (especially with Millennials)


PORTLAND, OR (Jan. 13, 2015) -- If you haven’t been involved in planning it, chances are you’ve at least witnessed it.

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands routinely distribute tens of thousands -- perhaps hundreds of thousands -- of their newest products each year to anonymous consumers at events, festivals and through streets teams. Unfortunately, brands often have little or no idea who received them, whether or not they liked them, or if they’d ever buy them -- let alone have any idea if the recipient had suggestions for improvement. 

Large-scale sample distribution has its place if brand awareness is the main objective, but if understanding what consumers really think about your product matters, conventional brand activations and supermarket sampling programs can be a waste of time and money since there’s little or no feedback mechanism in place to truly discover what consumers think. 

What’s missing is the ability for brands to: a) reach a specific demographic; b) capture consumer feedback about the product and overall sampling experience; and c) easily share their experiences on social networks.   

Those are the problems SamplingLab has set out to solve.

SamplingLab launched last month in Portland, Ore., representing new, innovative ways to execute product sampling and feedback programs. Much of what makes SamplingLab different is that it’s a permanent, retail storefront where nothing is sold. Visit for the full story. 

SamplingLab is a store where consumer brands offer free samples to a targeted demographic in exchange for their opinions through a brief questionnaire that’s co-developed by the brand and SamplingLab.  SamplingLab’s storefront also can become a venue for focus groups, product demos and a place to get consumer feedback on products still in development.

SamplingLab’s target demographic is the Millennial consumer, defined as 18-35 year olds.  While SamplingLab does not exclude non-Millennials from participating, the store’s look, feel and product selection specifically targets Millennials.  In five short weeks after opening, more than 4,100 Portland consumers have already joined SamplingLab as members, and 75% of those fall within the Millennial demographic. Approximately the same percentage is also female. 

Millennials are also embracing SamplingLab because it gives them a voice.  They also prefer being able to sample products of their choice in an inviting retail space (as opposed to in-store supermarket sampling) that encourages conversation and sharing. 

SamplingLab is changing how CPG brands look at product sampling with new options that go far beyond distributing samples to consumers who simply grab and go.  It’s capturing insightful comments through surveys by asking the questions brands want to ask, which can range from flavor profile and packaging, to product usage and lifestyle.

Take a look at SamplingLab if you’re looking for new, measurable ways to conduct product sampling, particularly if you’re targeting Millennial consumers.

For more information, contact Jeff Davis, SamplingLab Founder, at