“The average cost of an in-store demo per sale is $11,” once the company factors in the expense of the training, travel and time of the representative and the cost of the samples, Annalea Krebs explained to FoodNavigator-USA, noting that there is no guarantee that the sale was to a new or existing customer.
In addition, that price tag doesn’t guarantee actionable consumer feedback or insights into whether a shopper would buy the product again or even tell anyone about his or her experience with the brand, she said.
Social Nature, however, can do all this and more for a fraction of the price, Krebs claims.
“We are in-store demos 2.0,” she said, explaining: “We can target the right customer, make sure they are a new customer, give you consumer product reviews and feedback, build online brand awareness … and accomplish the same results that retailers want in terms of driving sales at the store level and driving repeat purchases, but in a better way.”
Krebs explained that Social Nature does this by connecting natural and better-for-you brands with thousands of carefully selected “micro-influencers” online who try a sample and spread the word.
“We specialize in what we call micro-influencer marketing,” which instead of activating people who have 50,000 to 100,000 followers on social media, “we work with everyday consumers who may reach anywhere from a couple of hundred to a thousand people through their personal social networks,” Krebs said.
“We have found that micro-influencers might have less reach in terms of quantity, but the people who are following them are mainly friends and family and have a deeper connection,” and therefore are more likely to trust and accept a recommendation for a new product, she said.
Social Nature magnifies this impact further by using about 50 data points to best match brands with their target demographic and influencers who are most likely to enjoy the product and “hopefully review it positively,” Krebs said.
Although she was quick to point out that because Social Natured does not pay influencers beyond the free sample, the influencers are not beholden to the company and will leave honest, authentic reviews.
Driving in-store sales from online
Social Nature may not sample in-stores, but it still drives in-store sales by sending its micro-influencers coupons with detailed directions to the closes store where they can redeem them for a free product, Krebs said. She noted about 80-90% of the influencers redeem the vouchers.
“What that does for brands is create immediate ROI at the brick and mortar level because we are moving product off the shelf quickly and at high volume. Plus, now the consumer knows where to get it for repeat purchases,” Krebs said.
Easy to use feedback
Social Nature neatly packages all the feedback from the micro-influencers and tracks their impact on their networks in a customized, real-time digital dashboard that brands can access.
The dashboard allows brands to sort influencer reviews by star-rating and whether or not they would buy the product, allowing them to glean useable information about what works and what doesn’t, Krebs said. It also shows them the percentage of people who said they’d buy or recommend the product.
Brands also can track on the dashboard the reach of the campaign across social media platforms and see activity, impressions, reach and engagement.
“There is also the ability to ask pre-and post-trial survey questions if a brand wanted specific feedback,” Krebs added.
An easy-to-scale price structure
Even though the service claims to have a broader reach than in-store demos and a higher efficiency than traditional influencers, it costs less than both, Krebs said.
“The cost to activate one blogger can range from $500 to $1,000 whereas the cost to activate one micro-influencer is $5-20,” Krebs said. And while that is sometimes higher than the $11 the company estimated for sales from in-store demos, Krebs notes that each micro-influencer reaches an average of 750 of their friends while in-store demos reach only the one consumer.
And because the service is volume-based, it is easy to scale based on a company’s budget and goals, Krebs said, re-emphasizing that Social Nature is the sampling model of the future.