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UNFI Delivering on Shopper Demand for Samples

Wholesaler partners with digital platform Sampler to send products directly to consumers
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Digital sampling platform Sampler is partnering with grocery wholesaler UNFI to share product samples with consumers at home.

Like other pre-pandemic practices, sampling hasn’t fully bounced back at grocery stores. While some retailers and shoppers may be dipping back into onsite product sampling, the ongoing uncertainty about COVID-19 and the continual emergence of variants have put a proverbial crimp in plans to fully bring it back.

Digital product sampling platform Sampler has stepped in to bridge the gap. This week, Sampler announced a new partnership with grocery wholesale distributor UNFI to send product samples right to consumers’ homes.

Through the platform, users can create an account and find products that align with their preferences, tastes and lifestyles. Based on data and insights, partners like UNFI can digitally target their buying base for better results.

It may sound like a costly alternative, but Sampler notes that it offers options for a range of budgets. “Once the pandemic hit, traditional ways of handing out samples, like in-store demos, became non-viable. Because of this, we've been working hard to spread awareness about digital product sampling and make it accessible to brands of all sizes,” explained Marie Chervier, founder and CEO of the Toronto-based Sampler. “With UNFI's help, we can accelerate conversations about the power of digital sampling with brands across UNFI's portfolio.”

UNFI’s president Chris Testa said that the marketing tool is a good fit with its structure and goals. “UNFI sells over 275,000 unique products from thousands of national, regional and local suppliers. Working with Sampler, we can help deliver a solution for brands wanting to generate greater trial and consumer awareness for their products. This new marketing vehicle can be customized by demographics and region providing an ability to support product distribution to UNFI retailers,” Testa said.

Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 47 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. 

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