Gelato Jonny 6 – To ice cream sample or not to sample…

This month I am exploring the dos and don’ts of offering consumers an ice cream sample or taste of gelato flavours before they buy.  There are more factors to take into account with this than you may at first realise.

Mons-en-Barœul Why offer a taster?

So why might you want to offer your customer to taste an ice cream sample?  The cynics amongst us might say – these people have come into your shop to buy ice cream – they will buy it anyway so why give some away – surely that is just eating into your profits?  Maybe there is an element of truth in that, however consider this scenario…

equivocally What might happen if you don’t offer an ice cream sample…

A customer walks into your gelateria or parlour, (no this is not a joke) selects a flavour they think they will like, pays for it and walks out.  What if they then discover outside that it is not the taste or texture or flavour they were expecting and in fact they don’t like it? 

Do you think they will come back to your parlour in a hurry or will they perhaps try one down the road?  Also what if someone else sees their reaction or if they are seen by potential customers throwing it in the bin after a few mouthfuls – that is not good marketing for your business is it?  All this before they have even told their friends about their experience.  Really this is all down to misplaced expectations, so lets re-visit the same scenario with the addition of a taste offering…

Diyarb Najm The same scenario with the offer of an ice cream sample…

A customer walks into your gelateria or parlour, selects a flavour they think they will like, (OK that is all the same so far but wait..) before scooping that flavour into a cone, the serving staff ask the customer if they would like to taste it first.  The customer agrees to a taste and finds that it is not what they expected and then enters into a discussion with the staff about what else they might like, tasting one or two other flavours before settling on a final purchase. The  customer then pays and walks out. 

The ice cream doesn’t end up in the bin. The customer is pleased with the whole ice cream purchase experience, not just because they have an ice cream they are enjoying but because they feel valued as a person. They have had a positive interaction that they will not only remember but will probably tell their friends and family about too.

Other benefits of offering an ice cream sample to your business

What’s more the staff have also gained an interesting insight into the perceptions about some of the flavours.  This is actually providing you with a customer research opportunity which you can take into consideration when creating future gelato combinations and displays.  However, beware that it is probably best to build up information from a range of customer samplings rather than just react to one customer in case they are unique in their opinion.

Do’s and Don’ts of Sampling

So having established that offering a taste before you buy option is a good idea lets look at the best practice of how to do this.  I have created a simple list of do’s and don’ts:


  • Ensure you take some of the ripple with your taster
  • Take from the back of the pan
  • Use washable metal teaspoons:
    • better for the environment to re wash than dispose of plastic spoons
    • more economical – a metal spoon will pay for itself after about 20 servings and can be used elsewhere in your shop with tea and coffee etc
    • a metal spoon implies quality
  • Follow up the taster with a question…
    • would you like some?
    • 1 scoop or 2?
    • which kind of cone would you like with that?


  • Don’t let the sample drip down the front of the cabinet when you pass the spoon to the customer (see tip below)
  • Don’t leave dirty spoons on the counter
  • Don’t offer samples when you have a long queue (see ideas below for helping with decision making a busy times)
  • Don’t use plastic spoons

Now for the technical bit of sampling with a metal teaspoon

To avoid dripping ice cream off the spoon when you pass it to the customer, dip the teaspoon into the ice cream first then take it out again – this will make the spoon cold and then when you scoop the ice cream sample onto the teaspoon the ice cream will stick to it.

What to do when queues are long and time is an issue?

Obviously spending a long time with each customer when you have a queue out of the door is impractical so here are some ways you can help the customer with their flavour choice when sampling is not practical:

  • Ensure you have an up-to-date flavour board listing all the flavours available that day, maybe with codes for dairy free, vegan, sugar free options etc
  • Ask the staff what their favourite flavours are and add that to their name badges or make a poster with photos of the staff with their favourite flavours
  • Provide a list of most popular flavours in order – some will deliberately opt for a lesser popular option
  • If customers are still struggling – provide them with a taste but then ask them if you can serve the next customer whilst they are thinking about it
  • If you have enough staff maybe you can even start engaging customers about their flavour choices in the queue offering ice cream samples of a new flavour whilst they are waiting?  This will also provide entertainment and take away the focus on waiting
  • Encourage customers to write reviews about each flavour somewhere in the shop or on social media so customers can think about their choice, maybe even before they arrive

All these factors are helping build on the ice cream experience that we discussed last month – maybe you have some other ideas to add to this too – I look forward to hearing them when I next catch up with you.

See you next time for the latest scoop.


Gelato Jonny

where to buy Ivermectin Antonelli’s National Technical Manager Jonny Ireland is a regular contributor to the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…

See how this article looked in the November/December ’19 edition of the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…

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