Venue Sampling

Contribution: Team member, Lean UX
Employee at: Sanoma Lab

[Blog, Originally from Sanoma Lab website, read original article here]

Venue Sampling is an idea of founder Robert-Jan Droogleever Fortuyn. He and his team (co-founder Stefanos Karakasis and UX designer Leonie van de Laar) have been testing the riskiest assumptions in the early stage of this venture.

‘Venue Sampling discovered the market for a disruptive digital sampling solution’

The riskiest assumption: The offline sampling process is ineffective

The initial problem hypothesis is that the offline sampling process is ineffective. The sampling market is ineffective due to high costs, hassle with permissions, cleaning(costs) and lack of feedback from the people who received the sample and limited targeting possibilities when sampling in public places.

The initial idea for Venue Sampling, was to explore the sampling opportunities in company environments only. The reason for this is, that the founder was inspired by all the sampling activities that take place in the foyer of the company he worked for (Sanoma) itself. 

Customer discovery, Wy do brands want to sample in the Sanoma foyer?
The team started the customer journey by digging into the reasons why brands are willing to sample at Samoma’s foyer. They soon found out that it has to do with the amount of influential journalists and editors within the building.

The biggest learning was, that the reason for brands sampling at Sanoma is mainly for press reason, and not on a personal targeting reason.

Value Sampling pivoted the idea from company focus to a wider focus
With this learning outcome, Venue Sampling pivoted the idea from focus on company locations to a wider focus on all kind of locations and agencies that organize sampling campaigns for brands.

Pivoting the idea, brought Venue Sampling back to the drawing board. Venue Sampling is focusing on finding a new disruptive sampling solution, and getting the biggest pains of all participants in scope.

The team talked to all stakeholders that are involved in a sampling campaign to find the best possible solution: brands, agencies and locations.

These are the main outcomes of the customer interviews:

This is what brands say: ‘We want to communicate with our target group to drive traffic to stores, create awareness and collect feedback’. And: ‘We sample products because it creates a touch point. But sampling to the masses is expensive because of all the handling (time consuming)’. And: ‘Sampling is a slow process (permissions) and we can’t control the quality’.

‘Sampling is a slow process and we can’t control the quality’

Venue sampling improves the quality and effectiveness of your product sampling campaign, and decreases the costs, by creating a match between target group, activity, location and your brand.

Our locations are looking for product samples because they want to offer their guests something extra. We don’t need expensive hostess decreasing the costs of your campaign. We can provide you with feedback because the location has intens contact with her guests. We help you find the best affordable match because we have detailed information about the venue’s peak hours, extra promotion possibilites and services from partners, target group and activity.


We are hired by brands to organize sampling campaigns. We search for locations where we can reach the target group.To find these we buy the ‘evenementenmonitor’ report but his is expensive. Finding new location open to sampling costs a lot of time. Often we choose mass locations and our hostesses give samples to the right target group.. and it’s to expensive to serve them with hostesses. We also represent locations but we have no time to find new sampling campaigns ourselves, brands come to us.

Venue sampling helps you find new and better locations for sampling campaigns fast. We help you save costs because our venues have close ties with your target group. When you represent location we generate new business for you.

We collect and specify all locations open to sampling campaigns on our platform. Our locations see sampling as an extra for their guests and will help execute your campaign so you don’t need many hostesses. Our locations have a good relationships with their guests because they visit regularly. Our platform promotes you locations so advertisers with a matching campaign will see you.


Our locations attract a specific public. We are always looking for new ways to satisfy our customers. Giving them something extra can be a way and when possible we do this, if there is a match with what our guests like. But we don’t have time to actively search and approach companies for this.

Venue sampling helps you promote your location and target group and attracts nice products for your guests which will give them a good experience.

When you promote your location on our website, brands can find you when there is a match in target group, activity, etc. You can decide if there’s a match and if your guests will like it.

Possible solution can be find in the long tale

With the insights of the customer interviews, the new solution for Venue Sampling came up. If you take in account that there are endless sampling possibilities, this image might look familiar:



A lot of brands don’t have acces to venues and events that are in the long tale






Possible solution: A One Stop Shop for sampling

With these long tale sampling solutions in mind, a new word of sampling opportunities can be broached. Venue Sampling can be the one-stop-shop for sampling.

New proposition for Venue Sampling: Offering acces to solutions that weren’t accessible before

Our online platform shows all sampling possibilities in The Netherlands and helps brands target their campaign, to find the best solution and the best agency for execution.

Our first test: A landing page for Venue Sampling



With this landingpage we tried to understand the customer journey of advertisers to see where we can add value and earn money. We targeted on brand managers. We showed all sampling opportunities in The Netherlands (fake of course, since we’re working lean) to see if we could get meetings with brand managers scheduled. Our minimum succes criteria was scheduling 20 meetings. We sent traffic to the website with a newsletter and direct mailing. Not one brand manager contacted Venue Sampling, so we can safely say we invalidated this concept.

Invalidated test, so let’s go back to do some more customer discovery
After this invalidated concept, Venue Sampling started to do some more customer discovery interviews with brand managers. The reason for this is that Venue Sampling needed to find the deeper understanding of the problem and had to search for the real pains that brand managers are suffering with.

Goals of the customer discovery:
Validating the product risk: What problem are you solving?
Validating how brand managers rank the top 3 problems.

Market Risk: Who is the competition?
Validating on how brand managers solve these problems today.

Customer risk: Do brand managers have a pain with sampling activites? (Customer segments)
Validating if this is a viable customer segment.

The main outcomes of the interviews were: 
9 Brands mentioned that ROI is hard to measure, or always want ROI in return. 8 Bands mentioned that reach is their number one goal. 7 Brands mentioned that sampling with a promo team is expensive and 7 brands have problems with targeting their campaign. 6 Brand managers have problems selling campaigns internally to sales. 4 Brand want to tell their story or require visibility in the sampling area.

This is how the customer journey for a brand manager who’s planning and activating a sampling campaign, looks like:




Conclusion of the customer discovery insights:
Offering a solution to the biggest pains (measurement ROI, brand experience, control and costs) are difficult to offer in a digital manner. Venue Sampling could offer a solution that helps to overcome multiple smaller problems.

Succesful failure for Venue Sampling
Offering a solution that helps to overcome multiple smaller problems is a to thin concept to continue a venture with. For this reason Venue Sampling successfully invalidated the concept of a one-stop-shop for sampling. Venue Sampling no longer exists.


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