Like nearly every public activity during the pandemic, the Costco experience is not what it used to be. Fortunately, though, since being pulled in March, the wholesale retailer finally is bringing back its most beloved sample program – with a twist. Before COVID-19 times, there would be groups of people crowding over the sample cart to take one of the pre-filled bites. Now, neither of these practices are allowed.
Costco announced that products and dishes would be showcased like they’re in a museum behind plexiglass displays. Instead of handing out fresh samples on-site, there will be dried samples available for customers to take home and try out. And, in order to comply with social distancing guidelines, this also means no more live cooking demos.
Social media accounts devoted to the big box chain have given us some insight into what Costco’s sampling program will look like in the ‘new normal.’ The Instagram page, @costcoguy4u recently shared a photo of the new pasta and sauce display.
“Great News..Demos R Back! A little different than what we are used to but we will take it! It looks like they will be giving out prepackaged dry samples and not on all demos… The new normal,” the caption explained.
For many brands, this new approach can create some operational barriers, such as producing smaller-sized packages or losing profits on free goods with less pre-sale marketing available. However, while this new program is more complicated (as everything is these days), customers could gain even more value from this new initiative. For example, you might be able to get free full-sized products to try out instead of a small bite (and maybe another one for the road). Hopefully, some of their cult products become up for grabs.
In Australia, Costco stores have tried to navigate reintroducing samples in a more cost-effective way by having employees wearing gloves and masks hand out pre-portioned containers from behind a plexiglass display.
Aside from the samples, another Costco favorite also has undergone a significant change. Shoppers no longer can purchase half-sheet cakes in its U.S. locations, and the retailer has introduced 10-inch cake options instead. With fewer gatherings, despite our affinity for this sweet offering, this decision is understandable.
Even with these recent changes, some bakery aisle mainstays continue to stay in stock. With fall right around the corner, Costco already has their seasonal offerings available for purchase. The Instagram account, @thecostcoonnoisseur, found their pumpkin pie already on the shelves.
Despite the significant changes, Costco continues to make grocery shopping a bit more enjoyable – even in the middle of a pandemic.
Before your next shopping trip, make sure to check out these 56 Costco products with a cult following for a good reason.
Launch Gallery: 56 Costco Products With a Cult Following for a Good Reason
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