The US Postal Service has been talking with advertising experts and consumer goods manufacturers to try to kick-start use of the mail for the sending of product samples.
A special Sampling Innovation Symposium was held earlier this month at the Postal Service, bringing together leaders from the advertising and consumer packaged goods sector to brainstorm on how to develop the product sample home delivery market.
USPS, which is looking for new ways to boost its flagging mail volumes, said today that it will launch “sampling opportunities” over the next year to build on the ideas put forward at the Symposium.
The Postal Service introduced a new Sample Showcase product last year, which showed good householder reaction to receiving a box in the mail containing free samples of consumer goods. USPS said today that its Sample Showcase “invigorated” shared sampling, with other companies launching similar programmes.
Surveys have suggested as many as 81% of consumers will buy a product after receiving a free sample.
But one of the key problems seen by some mailers has been the shortage of companies in the market able to produce product sample mailpieces.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said product sampling could prove important in helping the struggling USPS generate new revenues.
“Product sampling is big business and an opportunity for USPS to utilise its expansive network to reach millions of potential customers,” he said.
Mike Head, a partner at the marketing agency Fearless Group and former Johnson&Johnson worldwide vice president, said the Symposium had been an opportunity to sit down with USPS and generate potential turnkey solutions to improve business and the customer experience.
“Consumer packaged goods companies are always seeking out cost-effective, creative sampling solutions to introduce consumers to a product in the right place, inside the consumer’s home,” he said.