PEPSI-COLA SAMPLER EVENT: IN-STORE AND IN THE MILLIONS

SOMERS, N.Y. -- For fans of in-store marketing, the statistics are awesome: 19 million 16-ounce bottles packed by hand into 6.3 million specially priced three-packs, 14.5 million "wet" samples distributed free over a total of 32,000 store-sampling days and no media advertising.Pepsi-Cola Co. here is staying strictly in-store for its current consumer-sampling promotion, which links its three alternative

SOMERS, N.Y. -- For fans of in-store marketing, the statistics are awesome: 19 million 16-ounce bottles packed by hand into 6.3 million specially priced three-packs, 14.5 million "wet" samples distributed free over a total of 32,000 store-sampling days and no media advertising.

Pepsi-Cola Co. here is staying strictly in-store for its current consumer-sampling promotion, which links its three alternative beverage lines: Lipton Original iced tea, Ocean Spray lemonade and All Sport Body Quencher.

In a six-week period ending May 22, the promotion will distribute more than 1 million value-packs per week, each containing bottles of all three products. Consumers pay 99 cents for the sampler, which contains a $1 bounce-back coupon good for any of the three brands.

"This is the ultimate sampling program," said Brian Swette, senior vice president of new business for Pepsi-Cola.

Market observers nearly matched Swette's hyperbole. One source in the demo industry called Pepsi-Cola's program "the biggest I have heard of." Another agreed they don't come much bigger. But several demo industry insiders said they anticipate further programs this year of equal or even larger scale.

The three-pack program has been timed to influence thirsty consumers before the summer sales season begins in earnest, said Gary Hemphill, a Pepsi-Cola spokesman. Lipton Ori-ginal iced tea was introduced one year ago, the result of a partnership formed between Thomas J. Lipton and Pepsi-Cola in December 1991. Ocean Spray lemonade was introduced this February, via a joint venture between Ocean Spray and Pepsi-Cola formed in November 1991. All-Sport, an all-Pepsi-Cola creation, debuted in March.

Supermarketing, Minneapolis, an in-store marketing and demo company, is handling the in-store demos. It also coordinated the labor force that assembled the samplers.