Essential Fact of the Month: Where giving of samples is worthwhile

At the start of every International Trade Transaction, before the sales contract is actually agreed, the exporter will typically find the potential buyer eager to see a sample of the products they propose to buy… But is it worthwhile?

The distribution of samples is an effective marketing tool in certain circumstances:

  • Low-cost consumer items, e.g. confectionery, stationery or cleaning materials; 
  • Low-cost specialist items, e.g. medical disposables, chemical products or packaging materials; 
  • More expensive goods which can be produced in sample size units, e.g. miniatures of alcoholic drinks; 
  • Goods which would be difficult to sell without samples, e.g. fabrics.

Costing of samples provision

The provision of samples can become a very costly part of the overall export marketing plan. When costing the provision of samples, the exporter must include freight and insurance charges. The following considerations should be observed:

  • Control the distribution of samples. Ensure they reach the correct target in a suitable quantity. Samples of ‘attractive’ items have a habit of disappearing before they even reach the export market. 
  • Consider the outlets for samples, e.g. trade fairs, exhibitions or in-store promotions. 
  • Do not over-supply samples to agents, distributors or individuals – in some countries they are very likely to end up on the market! 
  • Be cautious of repeated requests for samples when orders never follow. 
  • Literature should be provided to support the samples. 
  • Incorporate a system of feedback if appropriate. 
  • Assess the feedback obtained after samples have been distributed.
Irish Exporters: Essential Facts is published by Round Hall Professional Publishing and written and edited by the Irish Exporters Association

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