At the start of every International Trade Transaction, before the sales contract is actually agreed, the exporter will typically find the potential buyer eager to see a sample of the products they propose to buy… But is it worthwhile?

The distribution of samples is an effective marketing tool in certain circumstances:

* Low-cost consumer items, e.g. confectionery, stationery or cleaning materials;
* Low-cost specialist items, e.g. medical disposables, chemical products or packaging materials;
* More expensive goods which can be produced in sample size units, e.g. miniatures of alcoholic drinks;
* Goods which would be difficult to sell without samples, e.g. fabrics.

Costing of samples provision

The provision of samples can become a very costly part of the overall export marketing plan. When costing the provision of samples, the exporter must include freight and insurance charges. The following considerations should be observed:

* Control the distribution of samples. Ensure they reach the correct target in a suitable quantity. Samples of ‘attractive’ items have a habit of disappearing before they even reach the export market.
* Consider the outlets for samples, e.g. trade fairs, exhibitions or in-store promotions.
* Do not over-supply samples to agents, distributors or individuals – in some countries they are very likely to end up on the market!
* Be cautious of repeated requests for samples when orders never follow.
* Literature should be provided to support the samples.
* Incorporate a system of feedback if appropriate.
* Assess the feedback obtained after samples have been distributed.

More information on this topic and a wealth of other practical information for international traders can be found in Irish Exporters: Essential Facts. Email maura.smyth@roundhall.ie for more information or a FREE 14 days online trial.

Irish Exporters: Essential Facts

is published by Round Hall Professional Publishing and written and edited by the Irish Exporters Association

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