Product sampling is a time-honored, inexpensive way to get people to try something new. For about $100 a day, you can hire a demonstration company to set up a table in the supermarket (see "Product Sampling," Sales & Marketing, No. 10911581, October 1991) and give samples to upwards of 500 prospects a day. But when your product is in some 6,000 stores, $100 per demo adds up fast. So tofu maker Nasoya Foods, which uses recipes for its in-store demos, shares demonstration costs with the vendors of products used in the recipes. "It makes it affordable to introduce tofu to a lot more people," says John Paino, president of the $7-million Leominster, Mass., company.

Stonyfield Farm also teams up with its vendors. In March the $14-million maker of yogurt and frozen yogurt in Londonderry, N.H., ran a 30-day promotion with Rebecca's Café, a Boston chain of eight "upscale fast-food" restaurants. Café patrons were treated to a free scoop of Stonyfield frozen yogurt on top of whatever Rebecca's dessert they ordered. Stonyfield gave Rebecca's credit for the frozen yogurt used, and the two companies split the cost of the point-of-sale material -- namely, placards proclaiming, "There's only one way to top our desserts." Rebecca's sold about 15% more sliced desserts that month than usual, and in a usually dead month for frozen yogurt, about 1,250 customers opted for it.

Says Stonyfield president Gary Hirshberg: "We don't advertise, and we can't afford supermarket slotting fees, so getting people to taste our product is our entire focus."

-- Susan Greco

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