KIND Snacks Founder Daniel Lubetzky: "I wish I had understood the benefits of product sampling"

In a rare opportunity to learn from the founder of a now-successful CPG brand, Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of KIND Snacks, shares lessons and regrets growing his company in a Fast Company article ahead of the release of his new book, Do the KIND Thing (released March 31, 2015). 

A lesson Daniel shared is a typical marketing mistake we often see:

"I wish I had understood the benefits of product sampling. In the early days, sampling was a missing piece of my strategy because I viewed it as an expense rather than an investment. Around 2009, I finally realized that, given our products’ high quality and taste, letting people try KIND bars was the best way to build awareness. We expanded our sampling budget and the brand has grown fast and furiously since then."

What does sampling do better than other channels?

  • Generosity & Reciprocity: Receiving a samples as a gift, especially when it is unsolicited, elicits a tendency to want to pay back the favor. Delighted consumers purchase products and share you with others. 
  • Getting Personal: The ability to try something for free is more powerful than any advertising. If your brand can say, "when they try it, they'll buy it," enabling these experiences is the most direct path to purchase. Other channels try to drive consumers to real-life interactions; with sampling, you're already there.
  • Cut the Marketing Funnel: Unlike digital marketing, sampling provides awareness, trial, and a call-to-action (coupon, email opt-in, or invitation to engage) all at the same time. Remove any doubt about liking your product in one touch.

As a consumer, I can personally testify to the success of Daniel's sampling strategy.  I first tried a KIND bar at a 1 Million Cups event in San Diego in 2014 (startup founders are prime targets for convenient, healthy foods). KIND Snacks had shipped a generous amount of bars for attendees. I grabbed one for breakfast, and within hours I had ordered a boxful on Amazon.com. Once that arrived my kids dug in, and our home is never without KIND bars in the cupboard.

Having spoken to friends who have discovered their own favorite products through sampling, this is a pretty typical result. Sampling is such a simple concept, yet a misunderstood strategy, that KIND Snacks thankfully embraced in time. The question every CPG marketer should be asking is: How are we generously inviting people to try our products and want to help us grow?

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