SUPERMARKET CONNECTIONS BEYOND THE DATA BASE

There are forms of targeted sampling gaining popularity that don't involve a grocer's data base, but are very involved in the supermarket industry. For example, Catalina Marketing Corp.'s highly successful Checkout Coupon system can also be used to distribute coupons for free samples, says Karl Maggard, executive vice president of marketing at the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based firm."Our clients use the

There are forms of targeted sampling gaining popularity that don't involve a grocer's data base, but are very involved in the supermarket industry. For example, Catalina Marketing Corp.'s highly successful Checkout Coupon system can also be used to distribute coupons for free samples, says Karl Maggard, executive vice president of marketing at the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based firm.

"Our clients use the network to isolate buyers of competitive brands, and identify consumers from cross-categories, which you can't do from a data base," he says.

"With our coupons, we get at least four to five times the industry average on redemption. We get parallel results or maybe even a little higher on targeted sampling. The worst example we've had is 5% response, and we've had 20% and 25% responses." Maggard says with Catalina, brand marketers can also be assured they are reaching someone who has not yet bought the product.

"For example, a razor company mailed a very expensive trial razor to one of our people who had just bought the product two weeks before. While they are mailing to the right audience, they are giving something that was just bought. It is a lose-lose situation that is wasted even against the right audience," he explains.

Matrixx Marketing, a division of Cincinnati Bell, Cincinnati, runs the Gatorade Call-In Center for the Quaker Oats Co. division. Matrixx's Gatorade team handles all Gatorade consumer phone calls, consumer mail and consumer contacts over the Internet. "We are the voice of the customer and an extension of the company," says Brenda McCleary, account manager.

"Quaker has its own data base. We capture information and enter it into their own data base. We generate reports here and their marketing group in Chicago can generate reports as well. We partner and work together in doing the back-end data analysis and interpretation of the data that is gathered," she says.

Roy Cook, managing director of Impact Media, a San Francisco-based door-to-door sampling firm, finds targeted sampling growing.

"With the promotion we're doing now, the manufacturer asked us to stay out of certain areas because they wanted to mail specifically to people who were on a frequent shopper program," he says. "They wanted to test the effectiveness of that and give us blocks to avoid. They could have had us do it, but basically door-to-door doesn't do specific households. Mail can be better done that way, although most samplings are done on a block group basis."

However, Cook says in-store sampling still encompasses about 75% of all sampling because it is suited for food samples, even though he finds it has severe drawbacks.

"A challenge with in-store is that more and more working women do not want to shop on the weekends. They try to find some time to go during the week and many men shoppers do not like to stand around on lines waiting for samples. Surveys show that many of these samplers are just hungry," he says.

He finds a movement away from in-store, "because a number of companies have indicated that they are not as happy with what is happening. There are more and more fees being tacked on and more and more being tied in with performance. It is just like [freestanding inserts] used to be. It is so easy to go that route."

Richard Furash, national practice director for consumer business at Deloitte & Touche, Phoenix, says as marketing becomes more fragmented, and the mail becomes more cluttered, brand marketers should use targeted sampling to better reach the consumer.

"But targeted data-base marketing is not used very well by manufacturers today and could be used a lot more effectively," he says, noting that most manufacturers simply file warranty slips away instead of examining their marketing potential.

"When a customer sends in box tops from cereals to get a toy, there is a data base and companies could send a letter to follow up on how the kid liked a toy and keep the mother abreast of upcoming promotions. But instead, some cereal manufacturers have set up a kid's page on the [World Wide] Web. I'm not sure how that relates to direct sales," he says.