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Free samples are back, but with safety in mind | News

New York — When Pat Curry found a bite-sized wood-fired rotisserie chicken and Portobello mushrooms at a local Costco in early June, she felt “dazzled.” After a 14-month break, the free sample is back.

“It was one of the markers that taught us that we were around the corner,” said a 60-year-old woman from Augusta, Georgia. .. “

When the pandemic was declared in March 2020, retailers were concerned about the potential spread of the coronavirus and blocked all free sampling of food, cosmetics and toys. But now that vaccinations have begun and the threat of COVID-19 has been mitigated in the United States, stores like Costco are confident enough to revive their long-standing tradition.

For customers, sampling makes shopping and discovering new items fun, not to mention getting all the giveaways. For retailers, these are important tools for shoppers to come back and fight online retailers like Amazon.

According to market research firm NPD Group Inc., food sampling converts browsers to buyers at a 20% higher rate than if customers weren’t allowed to test. When you sample a beauty product, the conversion rate is 30% higher.

“Sampling is very important,” said Marshall Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “Impulse alone drives 25% of retail.”

Jake Tavello, Senior Vice President of Stew Leonard’s, said it would have been difficult without sampling to promote a new item, a tradition started by his grandfather, who founded the local grocery chain in 1969. For example, it has tripled since the demo was reintroduced.

“When people taste it, it can make people want to buy it and decide what they want to eat for dinner,” Tavello said.

But while sampling is back, it’s not clear if everyone is ready to chew. With that in mind, some retailers have implemented various safety protocols to alleviate safety concerns.

At Costco, masked workers prepare hot and cold samples behind a plexiglass counter and distribute them to members one at a time. Stew Leonard’s took similar safety precautions and brought back the hot samples.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart and its wholesale club division, Sam’s Club, only offer pre-sealed food samples. And Sam’s Club is limited to weekend sampling. Target said staff sampling of food and drink has been suspended since March 2020, but allows self-service sampling of individually packaged items.

In beauty tests, retailers seem to be even more cautious. Beauty chain Ulta Beauty said it was still looking for ways to bring back makeup testers. Target announced in May that it would resume sampling beauty products at stores where customers could bring back individually packaged items.

Coles just says he didn’t revive makeup and fragrance sampling.

Lawrence Gostyn, a public health expert at Georgetown University, said food handling and diet are not the main route for the COVID-19 epidemic. However, food sampling can lead to people gathering together, which increases the risk of infection. He also pointed out concerns about sampling foods beyond the coronavirus. “Gripping the sample with multiple hands can spread bacteria, and contaminated gloves can also disperse unwanted bacteria.”

When it comes to make-up testing, Gostyn said it was “much safer and wise” to use a fully packaged sample. Also, to allow children to play with toys, unlike COVID-19, frequently disinfect objects to contain viruses such as influenza that can easily spread by touching contaminated surfaces. It is recommended.

The toy retailer’s camp, which focuses on children-centered shopping experiences playing with toys, now wraps craft kits individually in-store rather than having children hunt for art supplies. Says Tiffany Markovsky, the company’s marketing director. To test the toys, it sticks to items that are easy to clean, like a remote control toy car, instead of a throat hair doll.

Toy Tips Inc, a toy guide. Marianne Szymanski, president of the company, believes that the entire test of toys will be “restricted” due to prolonged concerns about bacteria from pandemics.

Some retailers have completely abolished sampling. For example, West Hollywood-based beauty company Blushington is moving to virtual make-up sessions and servicing shoppers’ homes instead of reopening six stores, said CEO Natasha Cornstein. I am. She believes shoppers can better manage the environment and hygiene of their homes.

“Consumers are coming out of COVID with very different habits,” she said. “Now it’s not just COVID.”

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

Free samples are back, but with safety in mind | News

Source link Free samples are back, but with safety in mind | News

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