It’s Alive! The Value of Live Demos for Natural Products Marketers

Walk into any natural products store, and chances are someone’s enticing shoppers to taste a new food offering, try a supplement or sample a beauty cream.

The live demo is very much alive and well in the natural products industry, despite the rise in popularity of social media marketing and other online platforms. In our Natural Products Marketing Benchmark Report 2015, produced in partnership with SPINS, we found that this traditional method for driving sales continues to be highly ranked for usage among the vast array of marketing tactics.

Live demos rank fifth among all marketing tactics, with 53% of survey respondents saying that they conduct in-store demos. Larger companies were more likely to conduct live demos than companies with sales less than a million dollars a year (see below for company size breakdown among respondents).

Value of Live Demos

But how useful or valuable is the live demo? It can be difficult to determine the ROI of live demos, trying to balance the long-term sales impact of the demo against the cost of the demo. Our respondents on average estimated that live demos had an 11% ROI.

Back in 2009, the Report on In-store Sampling Effectiveness offered some compelling statistics: sales of sampled products were up 177% the day of the demo and up more that 57% twenty weeks later. These numbers are impressive.

And let’s not forget the goodwill that demos generate with stores. The retailers we surveyed in our benchmark report said that the top two tactics used by manufacturers that they like the most are live demos and percent discounts.

According to our benchmark, 13% of companies responding named the live demo as the best tactic for increasing sales as well as driving qualified consumer leads.

Clearly there are those who firmly believe in the power of the live demo.

Integrating Live Demos into Online Marketing

Most interesting to us is how the demo has become integrated with the online world. Not so long ago, companies would either use their reps or hire demo people to go into stores. There would be a demo budget, demos would be scheduled, the demo would take place complete with samples and taste tests, and four hours later it would be over. Not a lot of integration.

Today, we’re seeing store demos that are integrating with online marketing. To modernize your demo consider these ideas:

  • Offer opt-in to email list as part of a promotion
  • Integrate with social media before, during, and after the demo
  • Offer coupon codes to track demo effectiveness

Demos have been a fixture in the natural products industry, and all evidence suggests they aren’t going away anytime soon, even in an increasingly digital world. While more companies are doing a better job at tracking ROI than they did just a few years ago, we still think the majority of those who do demos don’t really have an accurate way to measure the profitability of demos.  They see the sales figures and they like what they see. But what is the actual return on their investment? How many manufacturers really look at store level or regional sales pre and post demo, and then track to see what the long term incremental lift is compared to stores or regions that did not have demos?

If anyone reading this has some figures when they tracked the ROI of their demos, we would love to hear about them.

Thanks to our friends at Glee Gum for the image!