By Hannah Campbell, Operations Director at The Work Perk

Brands have a number of options available to them in terms of how they glean feedback from consumers on new, or existing, products. There’s obviously the ever-expanding social media landscape that offers access to various audiences, communities, demographics and all the in-between – many of which are only too happy to provide their feedback on products or services.

Some larger FMCG brands such as Nestle and Walkers have been clever enough to execute campaigns via social media that empower consumers to select which varieties of their products should be available in stores. This works for a mass audience, but what if brands need to obtain the opinions of a particular cross-section of people, say graduates who are between the ages of 23-25, big followers of fashion, that work in a certain industry? There are some research businesses that offer access to consumer panels, but these can be costly with the price tag getting larger as the target demographic becomes more specific.

The world’s biggest research panel?

Each and every day, millions of us head into work and spend a majority of the day at our desk. We all have ideas, opinions, values and desires – we’re all consumers. The global workforce traverses a highly intricate level of demographics, and includes pretty much every kind of consumer profile that a marketer may wish to target. By providing free product samples to people while they are at work, marketers can tap into this huge research panel, provide a sample of their product and ask the recipients for their opinion on it. The equation is simple: each person gets a complimentary sample product and, in return, they have the option to provide their feedback on it.

Spread the word

However, it is not just research that workplace sampling provides. This global panel also offers brands with an opportunity to drive positive word of mouth about their product. Marketers can reach their target audience, provide them with a free sample of their product and stimulate positive buzz, not to mention the possibility of generating mentions and imagery across the recipients’ social media channels. While at work, people generally feel at ease and there are no conflicting marketing messages, so people are far more likely to give a product their time and attention.

In practice

We recently conducted a great campaign for our client, Unilever, to sample its new blended butter, Gold from Flora, to one million people, specifically British mothers working at companies across the UK. Almost 200,000 people provided their feedback on the blended butter through a simple online questionnaire, which gave Unilever invaluable consumer insight on its product. This is information on the product that Unilever wouldn’t necessarily have been able to obtain other than sampling it in this targeted manner.

It’s that sample

It is the brands that really understand the desires and values of their target consumer that will succeed. Brands should take advantage of the global workforce; it’s a hugely responsive and reliable panel consisting of every kind of consumer demographic you can think of. Marketers can specify any mixture of age, gender, industry, geography and so forth, and obtain honest and reliable opinions on their product. And on top of everything else – everyone loves a freebie, don’t they?