While our friends and family are planning their New Year’s Resolutions, those of us in the health and fitness industry are working hard to make sure those goal-setters are set up for success! We’re filling orders to stock the shelves, setting up promotions for retailers, and when January 1 comes, we’ll be out there passing out samples of our products at events and demos…or at least, that’s the hope.
The start of the new year is a golden window when shoppers are open to new and different health-minded products. Jackfruit jerky? Sure! Mushroom coffee? Why not? CBD nutrition bars? Bring it on! It’s an ideal time for health and fitness brands to showcase their products.
But, despite the ripe market, New Year’s success isn’t easy. It takes planning, lots of planning and, unfortunately, many brands miss this golden window due to a lack of preparation. It’s easy to underestimate how long the process will take, especially if you aren’t aware of all of the intricacies.
For most brands, it takes about 2-3 months to put together a solid product sampling plan. If you’re just working through your budgets and figuring out how many demos you can afford, you’re probably looking at the higher end of the range. If you’ve got a budget and are looking to build your experiential marketing within your allocation, you could pull it together in 2 months if you’re focused.
Why does this take so long? It’s because the success of the product sampling program depends on a thousand little details.
Let’s put these in chronological order:
1. Set your budget. How many demos can you afford to do?
2. Source your branded supplies. Design & purchase – shirts, hats, table runners, etc.
3. Post your job openings. Where will you need coverage?
4. Interview your candidates. We recommend interviewing at least 3 candidates per opening.
5. Hire the best brand ambassadors. Don’t settle. If you don’t find a great candidate, keep looking!
6. Onboard the candidates in your HR system. Get new brand ambassadors into your payroll system.
7. Get the brand ambassador’s availability and contact the store to schedule the demo or event. Most stores require you to call the store to schedule, but some have an online scheduling portal.
8. Train the new brand ambassador. Make sure your new brand ambassadors can articulate your key talking points effectively.
9. Ship the branded collateral to the brand ambassador. Send branded supplies, along with cups, ice buckets, gloves, and any other items they will need.
10. Call the store to confirm product. Call the store to check their stock. Ask them to place an order if needed.
11. Answer any last-minute questions the brand ambassador may have. Touch base with your brand ambassadors prior to their demo to ensure they’re all set.
12. Review the brand ambassador’s end of shift report. Once events are going on, be sure to review the data from the field.
13. Make any changes necessary. Adjust your training documents and processes based on feedback.
14. Share best practices with the brand ambassador team. Share what’s working with the entire team!
As you can see, there are a lot of steps, and for some retailers there are even more! To do demos at Whole Foods, you need to set up a demo portal and upload a copy of your insurance. To demo at Central Market, you need to bring in product for sampling through the receiving department. Bristol Farms requires you to book at least 21 days out!
With all of the details to keep track of, it’s imperative you don’t wait until the last minute to plan your demo program. If you’re hoping to start 2024 strong, you will want to start planning no later than October 1st, and be ready to set your dates by Thanksgiving. High traffic days can book up weeks out, so you’ll want to secure your dates early.
There is good news though! If you hire a top-notch agency, like Health and Fitness Activations, you can complete step one and two and skip all of the other steps.