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Customer Story
May 2, 2024
min read

Top beverage brands quench college campus thirst with omnichannel product sampling

For beverage brands looking to connect with college students throughout the academic year and position your brand as an essential part of their lives, consider the power of an omnichannel product sampling campaign. We’ve seen many successes with soft drink sampling for the college demographic, like with the three campaigns we’re featuring here today!

This opportune life period helps companies develop brand affinities, generate awareness, drive trials, and evaluate purchase intent among such an influential audience. We kept all of these goals in mind when working with three top beverage brands. Check out how we got close to 174,000 cans and bottles to college students.

Tapping into the college student demographic as a CPG brand

Whether you have goals of driving retail sales, increasing brand awareness, launching into new demographic markets, managing short-coded inventory, and/or collecting consumer insights, the college demographic should be an integral part of your strategy.

We’ve learned that exposing brand-naive students to samples at key college moments turns them into lifelong customers. Targeted omnichannel sampling campaigns during back-to-college periods, tailgates, finals, sports tournaments, and other celebrations cement your brand in their minds.

You also can win with surprise-and-delight moments, like we did with the following three campaigns.

Smiling students hold up their bubbly water samples at their residences.

Nationwide excitement bubbles up over antioxidant sparkling water brand samples

Students at 24 universities across the country got the pleasure of receiving 12 oz. antioxidant sparkling water cans at their doors without needing to lift a finger. Okay, maybe a few fingers to pick up their samples to drink, but it was still bubbles with benefits, no hassles.

When working with our soft drink client on their goals of increasing brand awareness and driving product trials, we knew their products would be a hit with their natural flavors and colors, no artificial sweeteners, and naturally-sourced caffeine. It’s what students were looking for. To make the search simple, we partnered with 128 college housing complexes to deliver samples directly to residents and promote the brand digitally.

Nearly 141,000 cans were distributed in the omnichannel product sampling campaign, along with over 15,000 promotional cards, nearly 4,000 emails, and multiple social media posts.

Students raved about the product, especially those who hadn’t heard of the brand before. Additionally, many of the housing staff shared that students asked where they could pick up more in the future. That’s a win in our books!

Coastal university students show off their bottles and coupons.

College students get refreshed with sweet and tart soft drink samples

Under the sunny skies of a beachy campus, students across three college housing complexes got to kick back with fruity soft drinks that were sweet with a twist of tart. This refreshing lemonade brand worked with Recess on getting 16 oz. bottles and promotional cards to college students to drive retail sales to a specific retailer and increase brand awareness.

So we did. We partnered with housing locations to deliver packs to residents’ doors along with coupons to redeem at a local retailer, and we followed up on social media to generate buzz. The campaign resulted in:

  • 13,464 bottles distributed
  • 3,367 promotional cards distributed
  • 3 social posts and 1 Instagram story for 4,180 impressions

Feedback was revitalizing as residents shared high purchase intent and positive praise. We even heard that the more health-conscious college students were happy to learn that the drink was sugar-free.

And the students weren’t the only ones pleased. All of the housing locations called the sampling campaign a hit and would work with the brand again!

Grinning students pose with sample bottles across campus and social media.

Lemon lime soda brand gives college students an ahhh-mazing sampling experience

We’re a bit starry-eyed over our multi-state product sampling campaign with a lemon lime soda brand. Though it was a caffeine-free product, we were energized by how our campaign during midterms excited students.

That positive buzz definitely helped the brand with their goals of increasing brand awareness and driving retail sales. By partnering with student housing complexes on deliveries and lobby samplings, we surprised residents who both knew and didn’t know the brand. And if they weren’t present to receive samples, some locations stocked samples in shared refrigerators for later!

The campaign across 7 college housing communities at three different universities resulted in nearly 20,000 bottles distributed and close to 5,000 promotional cards given out. Housing community managers also promoted the sampling through social media and shared back with us just how excited everyone was to get their sodas.

Want to hype up your beverage products with a college sampling campaign?

Recess can support you in turnkey, measurable, and scalable ways. Talk to us to plan your college demographic strategy.

Minerva Thai
Minerva Thai
Writer at Recess

Translates super neat CPG brand experiences and strategies into words. Wants you to say hi to a dog for her.