Selling 90,000 Mid-Day Squares. In one store. In 13 days.

That kind of record-breaking performance calls for a special dance. So that’s what Jake Karls did. Oozing with pure joy and understandable excitement, the Mid-Day Squares co-founder and “rainmaker” filmed it and shared the video with his nearly 40,000 LinkedIn followers.

It’s just the latest story underscoring the power of sampling in partnership with Advantage Solutions’ Club Demonstration Services (CDS), a sampling and demonstration powerhouse that’s worked alongside Costco for more than 36 years across 12 countries.

“Sampling is everything,” says Nick Saltarelli, who along with Karls is a co-founder at Montreal-based Mid-Day Squares, a fast-growing maker of functional chocolate bars. The third member of the power trio behind the brand is Lezlie Karls Saltarelli, Nick’s wife and Jake’s sister. “It’s the cornerstone of our business and always has been. It’s in our DNA because while the best marketing in the world will get you the first sale, repeat business is where great brands are made.

“And the only way to get a repeat purchase is to make sure your product delivers on a promise to your consumer. What’s better than saying, try this? Experience it.”

Hitting the road

Mid-Day Squares began working with CDS in March, embarking on its first Costco Roadshow event in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, the exterior of which became the site of Karls’ viral LinkedIn dance.

Over 13 consecutive days of intense selling and sampling from store open to close, Mid-Day Squares sold more than 90,000 squares.

How? A customized approach by Mid-Day Squares and CDS, who leaned into the team’s high-energy vibe and lively personalities to generate personal connections. On top of that, the brand’s founders were there every day, says Advantage’s Pierre-Marc Pepin, country general manager for Canada.

“They help to create an environment where our people became their people,” Pepin says. “There was so much energy and infectious rallying, it didn’t matter whose colors you were wearing. We were all part of the Mid-Day Squares team.”

Costco’s treasure-hunt approach, surprising customers with products they didn’t even know they were looking for, is a big part of its merchandising strategy. Roadshows are an ideal environment for brands to test and learn what their products can do with a ready audience, Pepin says.

And no one knows sampling better than CDS.

“We know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating the right experience for the right member,” Pepin says. “It gives us an incredible sense of purpose when we can connect Costco members with products and experiences that enrich their lives.”

After their success in Pointe-Claire, the Mid-Day Squares team has been on the road with CDS, recently holding their second Roadshow in Laval, Quebec. They’ll be traveling to warehouses in Ottawa and Etobicoke in the months ahead.

Rapid rise

The Canadian Costco tour represents the culmination of a historic rise for the trio, who launched Mid-Day Squares in the kitchen of a Montreal condo in 2018, producing just a few handfuls of the snacks each day.

Since then, the business has exploded, thanks in large part to the founders’ boldapproach to building a consumer fan base for its plant-based, protein-packed chocolate squares, as well as its personality-driven social media presence.

Today, their fully automated manufacturing plant in Montreal produces more than 80,000 Mid-Day Squares in a 24-hour shift.

And when it comes to effective marketing, Saltarelli says, actively entertaining the brand’s customers is what turns a one-time buyer into a fan and brand loyalist.

“We think about entertainment as, ‘Are we making you laugh? Are we inspiring you? Are we pushing you to your limits? Are we making you feel bold?’”

Securing a spot in Costco was a golden grail for the company, says Jake Karls. So, they wholeheartedly embraced the relationship with CDS and the Costco Roadshows.

“Our team was fired up,” he says. “I’ve always been a staunch advocate for the power of personal engagement, of showing up and being present. These long days spent in the aisles of Costco, face-to-face with members, have been invaluable. Through this in-person approach, we’ve connected with Costco’s membership base.”