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The ILCC Legal Division

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TPP-14:
Standards for Approval of Test Marketing, Tastings, and Product Sampling

I.   Purpose

To set the policy of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission and establish the procedures whereby the test marketing, tasting and product sampling of alcoholic liquor products may be conducted.

II.  Policy

It is the policy of this Commission that test marketing, tasting and product sampling of products shall be permitted, subject to the following procedures.

III.  Background

Section 100.280  Giving Away of Alcoholic Liquors

  1. No licensee, individual, partnership or corporation shall give away any alcoholic liquor for commercial purposes or in connection with the sale of non‑alcoholic products or to promote the sale of non‑alcoholic products.
  2. No licensee, individual, partnership, or corporation shall advertise or promote in any way, whether on or off-licensed premises, any of the practices prohibited under subsection (a) above.  This includes, but is not limited to, advertisements using the words “free” or “complimentary” with alcoholic liquor.
  3. Subsection (a) above shall not apply to test marketing or tasting.

(Source: Amended at 21 Ill. Reg. 5542, effective May 1, 1997)

Section 100.10  Definitions

The following words or phrases are defined as follows:

“Tasting” means a supervised presentation of alcoholic products to the public at an off-premise licensed retailer for the purpose of disseminating product information and education, with consumption of alcoholic products being an incidental part thereof. Only products registered with the Commission may be tasted in the following amounts: Distilled Spirits 1/4 oz., Wine 1 oz., and Beer 2 oz.; notice of the tasting may be given. Tasting must be done by a licensee and/or registered tasting representative in accordance with Section 100.40.

“Test Marketing” means to test new products or products unfamiliar to the sampler through a marketing firm or the like.

Section 100.40   Registration of Tasting Representatives

  1. Any non-licensee wishing to conduct a tasting as defined in Section 100.10 must register with the Commission. A registered tasting representative acts as the agent of the licensee.
  2. Registration is fulfilled by submitting a form including the name of the person, address, licensee representing, if applicable, and any other questions deemed appropriate and necessary, and a $100.00 administrative fee payable annually to the Commission.
  3. The registration identification, or a copy thereof, must be available for inspection during any tasting.
  4. Any applicant must meet all eligibility requirements as stated in 235 ILCS 5/6-2.

(Source: Amended at 23 Ill. Reg. 3787, effective March 15, 1999)

5/6-31.  Product Sampling.

(a) Retailer, distributor, importing distributor, manufacturer and nonresident dealer licensees may conduct product sampling for consumption at a licensed retail location. Up to 3 samples, consisting of no more than (i) 1/4 ounce of distilled spirits, (ii) one ounce of wine, or (iii) 2 ounces of beer may be served to a consumer in one day.(Source: P.A. 90-432, eff. 1/1/98; 90-626,eff. 1-1-99)

From the general prohibition against the giving away of alcoholic liquors, it is the Commission’s position that “test marketing” and tasting of products, including those of an alcoholic nature, are valuable research tools in the development, production and ultimate marketing of products.  With the creation of the “tasting” it became apparent that there were individuals and companies which were providing services to the liquor industry who were dispensing alcoholic beverages to the public without being licensed themselves, or being direct employees or agents of licensees.  It was to deal with this situation that the “Tasting Representative” was created.

IV.  Procedures

Please note that the regulatory “sampling” has been removed from this trade practice policy. With the passage of P.A. 90-432, and the creation of the statutory “product sampling” the “sampling” activities authorized by rule were made moot. The “sampling” section of Regulation 100.10 was thereafter repealed.  There is both statutory and regulatory authority for the commercial consumption of alcohol for which payment by the consumer has not been made. The major distinction between these types of consumption is the nature of the premises upon which the activity may be conducted: the “tasting” may be conducted upon “off-premises” licensed retail premises, while the “product sampling” may be conducted upon any retail licensed premises.

From the general prohibition against the giving away of alcoholic liquors for commercial purposes, it is the Commission's position that product sampling and tasting of alcoholic liquor products are  valuable research tools in the marketing of products and the creation of brand loyalty. This Commission will grant approval to the test marketing of alcoholic products, on a case-by-case basis, only upon written request, stating with specificity the parameters of the testing, and to include at a minimum the following information.

Test marketing requirements:

Manufacturers, Distributors and Importing Distributors:

  1. The name and address of the marketing firm conducting the test marketing.
  2. The location where the testing will be conducted.
  3. The number of participants involved.
  4. Representation that the age of the participants is 21 years of age or older.
  5. The duration of the test.
  6. The total amount of liquor involved in the testing and the total amount to be given each participant.

Tasting and Product Sampling requirements are simply set forth in the statute and rules. An important point to remember is that both the rules tasting and the statutory product sampling must be performed upon licensed retail liquor premises. No tasting or product sampling can legally be conducted on a non-licensed premises, i.e., “in-home tastings,” or product samplings at a flower shop.

A manufacturer, distributor and importing distributor may furnish, free of charge to the retail liquor licensee, cups and napkins in conjunction with tastings, test marketings and product samplings.

If the retailer has previously purchased the product to be tasted or tested, the manufacturer, distributor or importing distributor may pay for such product at the retailer’s original cost. If the manufacturer, distributor or importing distributor supplies the product, the product remaining after the tasting or testing must be returned to the manufacturer, distributor or importing distributor (variations from these provisions will be considered consignment sales pursuant to Federal Regulations and the “Of Value” provisions of 235 ILCS 5/6-5).

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