Shopper Futures: Changing the way stores sample products

Marie Chevrier of Sampler wants to revolutionize store sampling

Last month, Mondelez announced eight startups selected to participate in the company’s Shopper Futures program – a mobile marketing initiative that partners tech and mobile startups with retailers to transform the consumer retailer experience. The startups now work together with retailers in collaboration with Mondelez to bring in-market pilots to life over the next 90 days.

We spoke with Marie Chevrier, founder and CEO of Sampler – one of the four Canadian startups chosen to participate in the program. For the next 90 days, Sampler will be working to develop a digital sampling pilot with the Mondelez Ritz brand and Albertsons, a U.S. retailer.

How, when, and most importantly, why was your company created?

Sampler was founded in October 2013. I’d been a marketing consultant for consumer packaged good companies in the food and baby categories, and noticed a need in the market for a tool that could help marketers distribute product samples in a more targeted and measurable way. A few of our early clients helped us fund and conceptualize the first build of Sampler.

How does your Sampler work?

Sampler is a management and analytics platform that helps brands create fully-branded social sampling applications that can be integrated into re-marketing channels like Facebook Fan pages and influencer blog posts. Once branded promotions start, brand managers can log into our analytics platform to gather deep insights on who is participating and how their campaign is performing, while continuing to communicate with their potential consumers. Sampler has recently started working with retailers to make it possible for consumers to pick up promotional products or discounts in store. This helps brands and retailers work together to drive awareness about where products are sold and, in turn, increase sales.

What grocery shopping problem Sampler solve? How does it improve the consumer retail experience?

Sampler is helping shopper marketers and retailers work together at driving brick and mortar traffic through product sampling. Brands can use Sampler to distribute promotional offers like free samples that can be redeemed in-store through loyalty cards and digital or printable coupons. This is a great way to create omni-channel product sampling strategies and to leverage suppliers to create awareness about some of the categories retailers carry.

What makes it different from similar technologies on the market?

Suppliers have been relying on traditional sampling strategies, like in-store sampling or direct mail, for many years and the market is starting to realize that this is a missed opportunity for them to learn more about their customer. Moving product sampling to the digital world allows suppliers and retailers to learn more about their potential customers, continue the conversation with them past trial and measure their return on investment.

Why do you think retailers should use Sampler?

Retailers are excited about Sampler because it is a turnkey tool for them to work with shopper marketing teams on omni-channel strategies. In turn, these strategies can help them gather more consumer data, drive awareness for key categories or new products, and measure ROI on shopper marketing dollars.

Has knowing the retailer and brand you’ll be working with influenced your approach to bringing the pilot to life? Why is your technology particularly useful to them?

We’re excited to be working with a household name like Ritz. While we haven’t landed on a strategy yet, we know that a well-known brand like this one could really benefit from our peer recommendation feature. Using Sampler, brands can choose to encourage consumers to share samples with friends instead of receiving the sample for themselves.  With over 1 million fans on Facebook already, a well-established brand can use our technology to leverage their existing audience to spread the word about new product innovation or to encourage positive brand sentiment around a well-established product.

What are your growth plans? Where do you see the company in, say, five years?

I never intended to build a massive company but two years and 100 clients later, I definitely see the impact Sampler can have on the product sampling industry. So now we’re aiming high, we want Sampler to become the world’s leading product sampling CRM.

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