Mouth to Mouth Combat

By J.P. Lincoln


Being in the mass communications business, it is all about SCALE. The larger the circulation, viewership or unique visitors a media outlet has the better – right?

While eyeballs continue to be an important metric to measure what we do, sometimes less is more. Way less.

Having so many food clients gives us a great vantage point  to identify trends. And one trend we see across the board is a new reverence for sampling.

Sampling not in the sense of sending products to an editor to taste and render a shiny positive review for all to read – CONSUMER sampling. Getting food into the mouths of prospective customers.

While taking a food editor’s word for it is typically more effective than staring blankly at a paid food ad, nothing takes the place of tasting something for yourself. Food in mouth creates word of mouth.

More and more food companies are recognizing this and investing in consumer-facing sampling efforts. We’ve seen an uptick in in store “demos” and even more taking sampling to the streets.

After Pepsi bought the lions share of Sabra Hummus, they’ve been sampling across America’s Velveeta belt with vigor. While everyone knows what a Frito is (Frito-Lay is a Pepsi Company), way less know what hummus is –so time to hit the streets and “spread” the word: chickpeas rock!

Our own cadre of clients routinely sample beyond grocery stores, too. Wild Planet Foods is a big supporter of 5K and 10K runs around the country (you knew sustainable tuna is the protein of choice to fuel runners and Wild Planet’s naturally high omega 3 is great to rebuild muscle, right?). We sampled Pretzel Crisps along with a projection marketing campaign at Fashion Week in NYC which got people marching into nearby Whole Foods for more. And this summer, popcorn magnate G.H. Cretors is sampling their diabolically addictive Caramel-Corn-and- Cheese-Corn-in- the-same-bag (Chicago Mix) at nearly 40 events in the Chicago area this summer alone.

But beyond creating new brand evangelists and exposing more people to your brand, mixing it up with the great unwashed is great for social media, too. Record someone’s first taste and put it on your Facebook page. Conduct a mini research session. If someone likes your product, they may LIKE you Facebook-style, too.

So the next time you look at your mix of marketing efforts, you might want to think small.

Sample forth and prosper.

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