SoPost … the Newcastle-based online sampling business that is disrupting the world of beauty

March 27, 2017

Free samples – usually given out in shops, at events and on the streets – are nothing new but exploiting consumers social networks to distribute free samples is. Newcastle-based entrepreneur, Jonathan Grubin spotted this opportunity and conceived SoPost, which neatly combines the world of free samples, social media advocacy, publicity, customer acquisition and loyalty in one simple process.

Brands come to SoPost to create a campaign, which allows users to click on a link to redeem their free sample. That campaign is then pushed out to the brand’s social channels whose advocates pick it up and share with their friends. Their friends in turn click on the link, provide their contact details to receive their free sample (and can opt-in to receive further information from the brand), and hopefully then go on to be fully fledged customers.

Formed in 2012, SoPost works with some of the largest brands in the world, including L’Oreal, Mondelez, PepsiCo and Benefit Cosmetics. An example of a campaign is with Mondelez, for which So Post created the #CadburySnowball Christmas Campaign. Twitter users were able to “hit” each other with a #CadburySnowball Tweet and when the recipient input their postal details, they received a free gift pack of Cadbury’s seasonal Snow Bites treats.

The company is privately owned, and backed by a number of angel investors as well as the Newcastle-based Northstar Ventures. So Post is currently expanding into new markets, working with its clients and brands. “SoPost is going from strength to strength and we’re excited to be expanding into the US market,” said Grubin.

Beauty blogger Lauren said this of her SoPost experience:

One of my friends who is into comping and hunting out free things sent me a link a while back and said if I went on it I could get a free beauty sample, and could send her one back in return. I wasn’t really sure what she was talking about, but check out the link and the company and saw that it was a beauty sample offer from So Post, a company that connects brands with people. So I decided I was happy to give it a go, applied, and sent the offer back to Vicky.

At this point I was still a bit sceptical about what I’d get back, thinking it would just be a sachet with a tiny little drop of product in it, so I was quite surprised to receive a mini tube of Benefit Primer in the post – very usable, and lasted a little while too – a win all round.

I’m not sure where these free samples that are sent via So Post are advertised – whether the brands market these samples, or there’s exclusive deals with freebie sites – I’ve only ever seen them promoted on one freebie page I joined – but since receiving the primer I have received some other bits and pieces all of which I have liked and enjoyed using (apart from the Max Factor lipstick which I gifted to my sister as the colour didn’t suit me).

To me this is how sampling should be – you get enough product to make a judgement on the colour, scent, whether it suits your skin tone/type – and then you talk about it on social media/to your friends – and maybe buy a full size product as well. Much better than a foil sachet with barely anything in it. I realise that some brands may not have the resources for this – but if the ones that do produce a limited number of samples – which people are claiming for themselves – sending to friends and thus spreading the word – and talking about it afterwards – then there is value in offering free samples in this way.

I think my favourite of the samples I have been lucky enough to receive is the YSL Touche Éclat Foundation – I got to choose a shade I wanted to try and it arrived in a box with another bottle which was one shade warmer – I didn’t expect that! I’m trying to make the samples last and not use them every day as I really like the coverage/finish and the colours are ideal for me – there’s quite a lot in each little bottle though, and they were colour matching in store as well so I managed to grab an extra sample. The only low point is the price – a full size bottle is around £32.50 – still it could me one of those make-up items worth the investment.

Have you received any great samples or freebies lately? If not then the Facebook group and website Latest Free Stuff is a good place to go to see what offers are around. Getting some free beauty samples has definitely been fun!

So why use SoPost? This is what they said:

SoPost is a more effective way of product sampling. Our platform removes the limitations associated with traditional forms of sampling and makes the process easier and more efficient. We help our clients drive sales and deliver a high return on investment whilst also capturing valuable data and analytics. What makes SoPost special?

Targeting

SoPost helps brands reach the right consumers. Ensuring that samples reach suitable people reduces waste and improves ROI. This can be difficult to achieve with other methods of product sampling which do not allow the same level of targeting.

Data

SoPost collects high quality information, opt-in preferences and genuine reviews from those who have received samples. This gives our clients enormous on-going CRM benefits, and a significant amount of user generated content. It makes sure that a campaign’s impact extends far beyond the activity itself.

Analytics

Every campaign that we conduct is monitored and benchmarked against previous campaigns to make sure that it is the best it possibly can be. This includes measuring its impact. For instance, calculating the amount of recipients who had an intent to purchase.

Scale

We’ve built SoPost to power major product sampling campaigns for global brands. Our infrastructure – from servers to fulfilment – scales. This gives our clients a huge amount of flexibility and makes sure that the consumer experience is never compromised.

Fulfilment

We have in-house fulfilment capabilities and can look after the physical distribution of samples. A global distribution network is in place and ensures that this final getting products into hands is smooth and painless. We can also develop bespoke packaging, making sure that everything sent to consumers is delivered on brand, on message and on budget.

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