Critical Mass: Enticing Shoppers to Mass, One Sample at a Time

In today's economy, the best way to grow business is to court shoppers from other retailers or, in the case of manufacturers, from other brands.

An ad by Cosmetic Promotions

An ad by Cosmetic Promotions.

Photo By WWD Archive

NEW YORK — In today's economy, the best way to grow business is to court shoppers from other retailers or, in the case of manufacturers, from other brands.

It has been proven that one of the best ways to lure those consumers is to tempt them with samples and demonstrations, which have been tricky for mass merchants who often don't have the staffing needed for such efforts.

These tactics don't need to be out of reach for the mass universe, according to Joann Tyson, president of Cosmetic Promotions, a 19-year-old firm specializing in event planning, advertising design, newsletters, store openings, sampling, sweepstakes and other in-store events.

Cosmetic Promotions has worked with chains such as Walgreens and Rite Aid, and manufacturers including Coty and L'Oréal on myriad programs.

"We are doing more sweepstakes, outside target sampling and college programs than we used to and I believe retailers and brands want us to help them develop new markets and bring customers back to the stores as opposed to just marketing to the customers that are already there," said Tyson. "We are also doing more training of store associates and supplying the beauty advisors with the tools to approach customers so they can provide in-store demos of their own."

Cosmetic Promotions has found that the in-store demo programs typically sell about one week's worth of items within the four hours of demonstrations. Plus, the benefits aren't always immediate. Shoppers try an item and then are hooked and tell friends.

The Grand Opening in a Box program includes everything a retailer needs including funding, which comes from vendors, the samples, bags and giveaways, and the professionals to distribute bags and demonstrate products. Scratch-off coupons at grand openings help redemption to two times the industry average, said Tyson. "We feel like we are part of the marketing team and our goal is to make events customized and special to their individual goals," she added.

There's also the Day of Beauty in-store makeover event where a professional makeup artist, sponsored by vendors, performs makeovers in stores.

The endcap programs result in higher rebates than average and some of the other vehicles are harder to measure, but Tyson said they are fruitful. "All I know is that my clients want more and more so they are seeing benefits," she said.
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