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Experiential Alcohol Sampling: The Recipe For Successful Trial

May 2019

Purity - Experiential Alcohol Sampling: The Recipe For Successful Trial

With changing attitudes to alcohol consumption in the UK driving trial to a targeted audience is something many brands endeavour to do on a regular basis.

Whilst for many FMCG brands this can be easily facilitated through numerous channels and locations, for alcohol brands this can often be a much more challenging activity requiring robust planning and consideration. Key aspects to consider are:

  • Legislation & Codes of conduct
  • Location
  • Timings
  • Mass sampling versus engagement
  • The perfect serve
  • Commercialisation
  • Sustainability

Legislation & Codes of Conduct

Activity should adhere to the Portman Group’s Code of Practice for the promotion of Alcohol. A fundamental rule of alcohol sampling is to ensure that Challenge 25 is followed. This includes how the staff engages with consumers, checking identification and clearly displaying visible signage. Other important procedures to follow are:

  • Drinks should be served and sampled to correct measurements as agreed with site owners.
  • All persons sampled must be coherent and not under the influence of alcohol.
  • Enforce responsible drinking guidelines and adhere to Drink Aware guidelines at all times (one sample per person with hand stamp to denote when sampled).


At Purity we find that location can be one of the most challenging and important aspects to delivering a successful alcohol sampling camping. Reaching the right demographic for the brand, in sufficient volumes, at the right time of day, and in the right mind-set to consume the drink itself, whilst at the same time finding a site that permits the sampling of alcohol in the quantity required.

Here sites can also differ with often varying regulations towards beer, wine, and spirits for example. Knowing the location and what the brand is trying to achieve is an obvious fundamental. Remember that mass sampling in high volume is not necessarily a sole indicator of success for many alcohol brands.

Examples of this are:

  • Whisky brands at major sports events, being in a leisure environment enables them to showcase the versatility of the product when mixed as a long drink over ice and with an accompanying slice. A sample including all these elements can showcase the product to a younger audience and change perceptions. See our Jameson Sampling campaign.
  • Vodka pre-mixed cans being sampled to festival goers and at university balls with full can samples. Tapping directly into the market that the brand wishes to attract and with a sample considered to be generous to the consumer.
  • Creating an immersive pop-up bar showcasing the provenance and history of the brand.


Alcohol brands in particular have seasonal peaks. The Christmas season being the obvious one when spirits such as Whisky and Cognac, alongside fortified drinks such as Port and Baileys, see a huge uplift in sales and as such focus a lot of marketing spend on this period. In terms of targeting this will be around commuter locations, Christmas festivals, and shopping malls.   Conversely, as we move into summer you tend to get a lot more activity from beer brands, wine, gin and ubiquitous summer drinks such as Aperol and Pimms. Serving the right drink at the right time is crucial.

Mass Sampling Versus Engagement

Mass sampling is a great way of driving trial in high volume and raising awareness of the product. Many alcohol brands however also have a story and provenance that sits behind it, and brands are keen to get this story told often to reinforce the premium nature and unique positioning of their product. This story cannot always be told when mass sampling which by its very nature offers a short serve with consumers passing swiftly through or past the activity. Where cost per sample permits, it is ideal to have some form of ancillary experience that allows consumers the opportunity to engage with the brand in more depth either visually via a pop-up experience or through interactions with trained brand ambassadors.


The Perfect Serve

When sampling alcohol a key focus of ours is to ensure the product gets into the hands of a consumer as it would if you were in a bar, albeit in a miniature format! With spirit drinks, this usually means serving a sample in a 4oz cup with spirit, mixer, ice, and even the garnish. All the while ensuring the measure between spirit and mixer is consistent. Accurately replicating the perfect serve is a must so chilled storage, ice and fruit deliveries are all an integral part of the campaign.


At sporting or mass participation events where appropriate licensing and permits can be procured, brands are more and more wishing to commercialise their campaigns. Extending the experience beyond the sample serve into a full pour drink retailed on site can be of benefit to both the consumer and the brand.

This is a strategy we employed running a successful mass sampling campaign allied to a pop-up experience bar at 6 major sporting events across Europe where as well as operating the bars, sourcing all ingredients internationally, we also managed all cash and credit card payments, and all associated local market VAT payments.


Check out our Johnnie Walker Campaign.


It goes without saying that when running any mass sampling campaign always ensure that the sample cups are recyclable! Some events will not even permit activity unless the relevant sustainable procurement has been followed.

At Purity we believe that by including all these ingredients an agency can provide the perfect mix when serving up a successful alcohol mass sampling campaign!

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