productdemonstratonsWhether your store stands alone or is inside a mall, there is no better time to introduce patrons to your many products. With the holidays approaching, people are out with the intention to buy. Many have people to buy for but no idea what to purchase. This creates an opportunity for you to really show off what you have.

Product demonstrations are traditionally associated with kiosk stands, but any retailer can use the technique to attract buyers. In fact, with the frenzy of holiday shopping, you’re doing people a favor if you can help them cross one more person off their lists in a single trip. Following is the why and how of product demos.


Signs and displays rely on images and written words to stand out to consumers. At a time when people are looking for something to jump out at them, a lot of items get passed over on the shelves and end caps.  When a product is put in action, it engages the consumer. It also convinces them to buy.

Consider this example:

Kevin wanders down the aisles looking at gadgets with his mother-in-law and grandma in mind. As he sees packages, he thinks, “Vacuum cleaner?  No, it insinuates that women have to clean. Tablet? They don’t have a use for it. What is an aromatherapy pack? Looks like a bag of sand. Why would I spend $20 on this?”

With the limited information he has about the wants of his family, it is difficult to just “find” something that will make them happy.

However, if Kevin watches a demo of the vacuum cleaner, the salesperson now controls the voice that talks Kevin in or out of buying the product. Not only does he see all the features that make vacuuming easier – lightweight, simple to clean, powerful suction for pet hair, etc. – he also sees other people using the vacuum and getting excited about it. The vacuum cleaner isn’t a symbol of gender bias anymore. It’s a tool to make a chore (that everyone has to do) not only easier, but also enjoyable.

Someone demonstrating everything a tablet can do might also mention an app that lets you store all of Grandma’s recipes. Or maybe there is a reminder app that would be perfect for organizing appointments and daily schedules. The salesperson reminds consumers how easy it is to use Skype on the tablet. Now Kevin is looking at a gift that will keep Grandma in touch with her family and have all her recipes at the touch of a button. He can set it up to have functions ready to go (personalizes the gift) so Grandma can start enjoying convenience right away.

A demonstration of the aromatherapy pack will put Kevin in touch with exactly what the bag does: make you feel awesome. Now he wants three so he can gift that wonderful feeling to more than one person.


There are some keys to making demonstrations successful. The first is calling attention to the demo. The great thing about showing off a product is that once you engage one person, you are likely to engage a few. A few people attract a few more, and so on. Once you have the attention of a few people, your chances of drawing a crowd are good.

Here are a few ways of initiating attention:

  • Eye contact. If you’re waiting for a person to come along and try out a product, be sure to politely greet passersby. You can gauge their level of interest and make your next move to invite people to try the product. Simply appearing open for conversation will help motivate people to check out the product, too.
  • Use the product. Some merchandise requires a big show of a demo, but some are simpler than that. Toys, for example, can be picked up and used at any time. Just make sure you aren’t so involved that you ignore people.
  • Use gestures. That remote control helicopter you’re showing? Offer the remote to people as they pass by. Want someone to try a lotion? Hold the bottle ready to dispense and extend it toward people you make eye contact with.
  • Use signs. Make it easy for people to get the information they need about the product without interrupting your presentation.
  • Engage new people. When a new person joins the conversation, include them right away. You can simply ask questions to pull them in: “What do you think?” “Who do you know who could use this?” “Looks fun, right?”

Now that you have people’s attention, you need to persuade them to buy, and to do that, you need a script. Each salesperson should be armed with the same information, format, and strategy to sell the product. With the script memorized, salespeople can work on delivery for the most effective selling.

Every script should collect a yes at different parts of the presentation. Ask consumers things like, “Works great, doesn’t it?” “Makes the task easier, right?” “You all need a little more time, don’t you?” When consumers agree, they accept the aspects of the product and form an affinity for it. They can also see themselves (or someone else) benefiting from the product.

Finally, the presentation needs to happen in the right place. If your store is in a mall, you may want the demonstration close to the doors so you can pull people into the shop. For standalone stores, choose locations close to high-traffic areas (without being in the way.) Think about who will buy your product and where they will be in your store.

Product demonstration is effective for almost any item, but it is especially useful for selling big-ticket items. These are particularly important to sell before the year ends. With people out holiday shopping, it is the perfect opportunity to put this strategy to work.

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