Sampler to work with Kraft Heinz Canada after winning innovation challenge

Toronto tech start-up with CPG giant on two ‘test and learn’ pilots


Toronto-based “social sampling” company Sampler is embarking on a new partnership with Kraft Heinz Canada after being one of two winners of the company’s recent “Digital Innovation Challenge.”

The tech start-up is being funded for a “test and learn” pilot with Kraft Heinz Canada potentially implementing the program as part of its 2017 marketing plan pending the results.

Sampler CEO Marie Chevrier (pictured) didn’t say which products will be included in the pilot program, but say that it will encompass two of the company’s “leading” brands.

Canadian Grocer did find a request for proposal on the website Wufoo that asked tech companies to solve “marketing challenges” for Kraft-Heinz as part its Canadian Digital Innovation Challenge, with a budget set aside of up to US$50,000 for each of two pilot projects.

Brands cited in the challenge included Heinz ketchup, Kool-Aid and Kraft-Heinz’s coffee pod business.

With Heinz Ketchup, for instance, the RFP challenged tech companies to “amplify loyalty” to the ketchup in order to increase market share. On Kool-Aid the goal was to drive awareness and trial of a new product billed as a healthier alternative for kids. And for, Kraft-Heinz said it wanted to “get millennials to engage with our content and visit our site and platforms…”

Sampler’s director of business development J.J. Dobrovolski says that the company was invited to pitch on two business cases (he won’t say which ones), and was selected to work on both.

Established in 2013, Toronto-based Sampler works with companies to distribute their samples to consumers in a more targeted and measurable way.

“In the same way that [companies] would buy targeted online ads, they can buy targeted samples using Sampler,” says Chevrier. Brands can login to their Sampler account and choose the people they would like to distribute their samples to based on their online preferences and brand engagement.

“Maybe I’m looking to target consumers who shop at Loblaws, who are moms and potentially have a cat,” says Chevrier. “These are the types of hyper-targeted audiences we can help these brands collect.”

The company, which also has a business development office in New York, has worked with companies including Kimberly-Clark, L’Oreal and Mondelez.

Sampler also works with digital publishers and online communities like the Canadian Mother Resource and Mom365 to recruit people for its various sampling programs. Sampler powers the sampling programs operated by these organizations, asking profile questions that helps identify a match with brand partners.

READ: Sample CEO Marie Chevrier on the peer-to-peer future of marketing

According to Chevrier, Sampler plans to establish six audience networks, including moms and kids; college/Gen Z; health and wellness; fashion and beauty; business and Hispanics (a U.S. focused network).

Sampler delivers physical samples to people’s homes, or in some cases sends them coupons that can be redeemed in-store. “We’re huge believers that when it comes to getting a consumer to switch brands, the most effective way is by trial,” says Chevrier. “That’s the problem we want to solve for brands.”

Sampler remains in contact with consumers by including coupons in their package and tracking redemption rates, as well as digital surveys and digital calls-to-action such as directing consumers to a specific brand page. “We really help keep that two-way dialogue going,” says Dobrovolski.

Sampler also recently participated in the Unilever Foundry50, a global program aimed at highlighting the most promising marketing tech companies.