Every business hopes that its in-store retail marketing program will resonate with shoppers, get their product into their hands, and lead to a sale at the cash register. The best-case scenario is that those consumers will become lifelong customers.
However, a successful in-store demo requires more than just handing out free samples. It involves strategic planning, an engaging presentation, and effective interaction to maximize the impact on potential customers. Smart managers recognize that promotions only affect sales if certain conditions are met:
- Will the brand ambassador be able to connect with both the product and the shopper?
- Will the day and time of the event be sufficiently busy?
- What other vendors promote their merchandise at the same time in the store?
- What are the typical roadblocks to in-store demo success?
- What are some great store sampling event production hints?
Knowing the day and time of the event is important, but it's also crucial to research other vendors who may be field marketing their merchandise at the same time in the store.
Some of the most common things that stop in-store demos from working are a lack of visibility, boring displays, and staff that hasn't been trained enough.
To make sure a store sampling event goes well, it's important to have displays that draw people's attention, staff who are excited and knowledgeable about the products, and interactive elements that get people interested.
In-store sampling is not supposed to turn into a soup kitchen. It is a marketing event to create a superior experience of your products for shoppers with purchasing power that may need more sales effort to bring up to the sample booth. Superior experience creates a need for reciprocity and eliminates uncertainty in a consumer's mind.
Quality of training for the representative, demonstrator, or brand ambassador is important, as in-store sampling can turn chaotic and become a mess hall for the starving masses.
I saw an eggroll brand ambassador put on what I would call a remarkable show while dealing with a huge crowd of hungry customers. The busy woman opened boxes of food as quickly as she could, heating them, and putting them on a tray, where they were quickly eaten without anyone saying "thank you."
There was never a time for minimal interaction between the company representative and the shoppers. I wondered if the people snapping up the samples and impatiently tapping their feet were there to purchase groceries or have a meal. On the bright side, you could point to the excitement of the high demand for the product as something to buy instantly. Unfortunately, no display or any messaging guided the shoppers to the point of purchase to capitalize on their excitement.
A retailer is responsible for ensuring that their stores' promotional events are well-planned, coordinated, and put together. While the CPG brands and FMCG vendors fund, staff, and produce in-store demo events, the retailer's brand, and reputation are at risk if their shoppers' experience is jeopardized by a poorly executed event.
One-on-one selling in the retail environment by a well-trained salesperson with great poise and skill who loves what they are doing will forever be a great way to make a lasting impression and a great way to drive sales.
A study by the independent market research firm Knowledge Networks—PDI shows that store sampling greatly affects sales on the day of the sampling event. It also increases sales of established and new products for many weeks. The study also found, among other things, that store demos often lift sales of the entire brand franchise, not just the sampled product. The study is among the first to utilize frequent shopper data to test the impact on sales.
Our own research at Demo Wizard shows that most (70%) in-store promotions are a waste of money for the CPG or FMCG brands that pay for them. The main reasons are
This is a warning that even a tried-and-true classic opportunity can quickly become a waste of money if it isn't done right. In-store sampling should be your preferred retail marketing strategy instead of one-off events.