The Lure of Freebies: Try Some Tryvertising

Last Updated Apr 27, 2010 11:42 AM EDT

The days of offering a free sachet of shampoo in a magazine are gone. There are far more options for drawing in and retaining customers, according to trendwatching.com. One is 'tryvertising', which has been bubbling under since 2005 and is now growing in popularity and ambition.

Tryvertising is all about making customers familiar with products by giving them an opportunity to try them out in the course of their daily life. It can offer growing businesses a great opportunity to promote their products without advertising.

Here are some examples of tryvertising in action:

Sample stores: Known as sample labs, stores stocked with samples of cosmetics, food and household goods began to surface in Asia and are now popping up in Europe. For 10 euros a year, Barcelona-based Esloúltimo customers can test five new products every two weeks. It's so popular a second store in the pipeline for Madrid. There are also online equivalents such as TheFreeSite.com, www.startsampling.com, www.freechannel.net, www.freebielist.com.

Product champions: If you are going to give away free samples how can you ensure the right people get them? One clever solution is Tremor, a tryvertising project run by kings of crowdsourcing Procter & Gamble. A consumer advocacy group, Tremor signed up 280,000 US teens between 13 and 19 to promote new products to their peers and place coupons and product samples in living rooms, schools and any other relevant location. The teens, in return, are rewarded with gift certificates.

'Real' product placements: This is about literally placing your product under the customer's nose. Think of the branded toothpaste that your aeroplane gives you or those aromatic soap bars in your hotel.

Luxe packages: This is about association -- giving your premiere customers the chance to try other premium brand products. Take the Ritz Carlton/Mercedes Key to Luxury scheme, which bundles up luxury guest room accommodation with use of a Mercedes CLS500 for the duration of the guest's stay. According to the hotel group, dozens of guests decided to buy a new Merc based on these integrated test-drives.

Right-time placement: This is about building an experience -- getting customers to build a positive memory around a product or service. Vacations Connections organises in-room placements for new products when customers haven't got their regular ones to hand. Senseo installed its coffee machines at a number of Dutch bus and tram stops where waiting passengers can get a drink for free.

Add more freebies: Nike Fitness Academy set up shop in the fitness room of the General William Lyon University Centre, offering a series of free classes taught by certified instructors. Participants also get to try on the latest models and styles of shoes during their work-out period.

Part previews: Some companies are giving customers the opportunity to try a part of their product rather than the whole thing. Just as iTunes makes 30-second clips available to its customers, Amazon.com's 'Search Inside' feature lets customers read a book's first page or an excerpt.

Tryvertising and technology: 'Virtual' sampling is the next frontier. Take the digital cosmetic mirror launched last month at a department store in Tokyo: Using the device's touch-screen, testers can trial make up products without actually applying anything to their skin, and print out 'before' and 'after' photos of the looks they like best.

(Pic: omaniblog, cc2.0)