What drives new product trial levels?
There are numerous factors that will impact the percentage of consumers that trial a product, which marketers can influence and drive.
Some of the factors to take into account include:
Is this a product line extension?
Product line extensions would generally have higher trial rates.
A product line extension is when a company introduces additional items in a given product category under the same brand name, such as new flavors, forms, colors, added ingredients, package sizes, etc.
If the product is an extension of an existing line, consumers who are familiar with and trust the existing product line might be more willing to try the new product. This can lead to higher trial rates compared to completely new and unknown products.
Does this new product belong to a strong brand?
Strong brand equity leads to higher trial rates.
Strong brand equity refers to the value a brand holds, built up over time through consistent positive experiences with the products or services the brand offers.
If a new product is associated with a strong brand, it’s more likely to have higher trial rates as consumers often trust that this new product will be of the same quality and reliability as other products from the brand.
Is there a free sampling program in place?
Free sampling will deliver higher trial rates (but much lower repeat/rebuy rates).
Free sampling allows consumers to try a product before purchasing it. It can increase trial rates by removing financial risk for the consumer.
However, while this strategy may increase initial usage, it does not necessarily lead to repeat purchases, and can sometimes lead to lower repeat or rebuy rates as people might just take advantage of the free product without any intention of buying it in the future.
Are there sales and/or trade promotions in place?
If yes, then trial rates will be higher.
Sales promotions like discounts or buy-one-get-one-free offers, as well as trade promotions (incentives given to retailers) can lead to higher trial rates by lowering the cost barrier and increasing product visibility.
Is the product promoted/sold by a sales team?
A dedicated sales channel will achieve higher trial take up rates.
A dedicated sales team can communicate the benefits of a new product directly to potential customers, addressing any doubts or queries in real time. This direct selling approach can lead to higher trial take-up rates.
Does the firm/brand have the ability to direct market the new product to their existing customer base?
If yes, then the trial rate should be high.
Direct marketing to an existing customer base can result in higher trial rates. This is because existing customers have already established trust with the brand and are therefore more likely to try new products.
Is this a relatively low-cost product?
If yes, then trial rates will be higher.
The price of a product can greatly influence trial rates. If a product is relatively low-cost, the financial risk associated with trying it is lower, and thus, consumers are more likely to try it.
Is the product supported by advertising and wide availability?
Seeing the product being promoted and available in stores gives the consumers confidence that this is a product that provides value and is a quality – leading to increased trial take up.
Advertising can increase product visibility and awareness, while wide availability ensures that interested customers can easily access it. Both these factors can give consumers confidence in the product’s value and quality, leading to increased trial rates.
Is the product unique/differentiated?
Products that offer a new benefit are more likely to have a higher trial take up than “me too” competitors.
Unique or differentiated products that offer new benefits or address unmet needs can attract more customers to try them. This novelty can make them stand out in a crowded market, which can result in higher trial rates than “me too” competitors.
Does the product have a money back guarantee?
Money back guarantees will reduce the perceived risk to the consumer, and lead to increased initial sales.
Money back guarantees can reduce perceived risk for the consumer, making them more likely to try a product. The promise of a refund if not satisfied with the product can drive initial sales up.
Does the overall new product provide a high level of perceived value?
The higher the perceived value to the end consumer, then the higher the likely initial trial percentage.
Perceived value refers to a customer’s evaluation of the worth of a product or service in comparison to its alternatives.
If the perceived value of a new product is high, customers are more likely to try it. High perceived value can be a result of various factors like high quality, competitive pricing, strong brand reputation, etc.
Trial rates should generally reduce over time
When a product is first released, it probably has its best chance at maximizing its trial rate.
This is because the product is new and exciting and the potential consumers that see value in the product are more likely to purchase it early. This is particularly the case for product-line extensions and products under the support of strong brands.
Some lessor known brands might see an initial increase in trial rate in years 2 and 3, as positive word-of-mouth and greater product exposure gives more consumers the confidence to purchase the product.
However, as indicated by the product life-cycle model, eventually the proportion of new/first-time customers will reduce.
The two trial scenarios described about are shown in the graph. Large brands will start higher, but then run off faster (but will generally always have a higher trial percentage). Whereas weaker brands will build for a while and then run off as well.