Career Guide for Product Demonstrators

A product demonstrator promotes a product to create interest in it from consumers. Product demonstrators may show cosmetics, cooking ware, or food to try to create enough interest that people will purchase it. Typically, this type of position requires someone who is outgoing and enjoys talking in front of crowds.

In this free career guide, learn how to have a successful career as a product demonstrator.

Product Demonstrator Summary

  • Job openings should be plentiful.
  • Most jobs are part time or short term or have variable work schedules, and many jobs require frequent travel.
  • On-the-job training is provided and education beyond high school is not required.

Working as a Product Demonstrator

Demonstrators and product promoters create public interest in buying products such as cosmetics, food, and housewares. The information they provide helps consumers make choices among the wide variety of products and services they can buy.

Demonstrators and product promoters encourage people and stores to buy a product by demonstrating it to prospective customers and answering their questions. They may sell the demonstrated merchandise or gather names of prospects to contact later or pass on to sales staff. Demonstrators promote sales of a product to consumers, while product promoters encourage sales to retail stores and help them market products effectively.

Demonstrators and product promoters generate sales of both sophisticated and simple products, ranging from computer software to mops. They attract an audience by offering samples, administering contests, distributing prizes and coupons, and using direct-mail advertising. They must greet and catch the attention of possible customers and quickly identify those who are interested and able to buy. They inform and educate customers about the features of products and demonstrate their use with apparent ease in order to inspire confidence in the product and its manufacturer. They also distribute information, such as brochures and order forms. Some demonstrations are intended to generate immediate sales through impulse buying, whereas others increase the likelihood of future sales by increasing brand awareness.

Demonstrations and product promotions are conducted in retail and grocery stores, shopping malls, trade shows, and outdoor fairs. Locations are selected on the basis of the nature of the product and the type of audience. Demonstrations at large events may require teams of demonstrators to handle large crowds efficiently. Some demonstrators promote products on videotape or on television programs, such as “infomercials” or home shopping programs.

Demonstrators and product promoters may prepare the content of a presentation and alter it to target a specific audience or to keep it current. They may participate in the design of an exhibit or customize the exhibit for particular audiences. Results obtained by demonstrators and product promoters are analyzed, and presentations are adjusted to make them more effective. Demonstrators and product promoters also may be involved in transporting, assembling, and disassembling materials used in demonstrations.

A demonstrator’s presentation may include visuals, models, case studies, testimonials, test results, and surveys. The equipment used for a demonstration varies with the product being demonstrated. A food product demonstration might require the use of cooking utensils, while a software demonstration could require the use of a multimedia computer. Demonstrators must be familiar with the product to be able to relate detailed information to customers and to answer any questions that arise before, during, or after a demonstration. In order to do so, they may research the product presented, the products of competitors, and the interests and concerns of the target audience before conducting a demonstration. Demonstrations of complex products often need practice.

Work environment. About 54 percent of all demonstrators and product promoters work part time and about 22 percent have variable work schedules. Many positions may last 6 months or less.

Demonstrators and product promoters may work long hours while standing or walking, with little opportunity to rest. Some of them travel frequently, and night and weekend work often is required. The atmosphere of a crowded trade show or State fair frequently is hectic, and demonstrators and product promoters may feel pressure to influence the greatest number of consumers possible in a very limited amount of time. However, many enjoy the opportunity to interact with a variety of people.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

On-the-job training is provided and education beyond high school is not required.

Education and training. Demonstrators and product promoters usually receive on-the-job training, and formal postsecondary education is not required. Training is primarily product oriented, because a demonstrator must be familiar with the product to demonstrate it properly. The length of training varies with the complexity of the product. Experience with the product or familiarity with similar products may be required for the demonstration of complex products, such as computers. During the training process, demonstrators may be introduced to the manufacturer’s corporate philosophy and preferred methods for dealing with customers.

Other qualifications. Employers look for demonstrators and product promoters with good communication skills and a pleasant appearance and personality. Demonstrators and product promoters must be comfortable with public speaking. They should be able to entertain an audience and use humor, spontaneity, and personal interest in the product as promotional tools. Foreign language skills are helpful.

Advancement. Demonstrators and product promoters who perform well and show leadership abilities may advance to other marketing and sales occupations or open their own business.

Employment for Product Demonstrators

Demonstrators and product promoters held about 102,800 jobs in 2008. About 23 percent of all salaried jobs for demonstrators and product promoters were in retail trade, especially general merchandise stores, and 18 percent were in advertising, public relations, and related services. Other jobs were found in administrative and support services, including employment services.

Job Outlook

Employment of demonstrators and product promoters is expected to grow as fast as average for all occupations through 2018. Job openings should be plentiful over the next decade.

Employment change. Demonstrators and product promoters are expected to experience 7 percent growth between 2008 and 2018, as fast as the average for all occupations. Job growth should be driven by increases in the number and size of trade shows and greater use of these workers in department stores and various retail shops for in-store promotions. Product demonstration is considered a highly effective marketing tool. New jobs should arise as firms devote a greater percentage of marketing budgets to product demonstration. However, it is also an expensive method of marketing, which will somewhat limit growth.

Job prospects. Job openings should be plentiful for demonstrators and product promoters. Employers may have difficulty finding qualified demonstrators who are willing to fill part-time, short-term positions.

Employment of demonstrators and product promoters is affected by downturns in the business cycle. Many firms tend to reduce advertising budgets during recessions.

Projections Data

Projections data from the National Employment Matrix
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2008 Projected
Employment, 2018
Change,
2008-18
Number Percent
Demonstrators and product promoters 41-9011 102,800 110,100 7,300 7
NOTE: Data in this table are rounded.

Earnings for Product Demonstrators

Demonstrators and product promoters had median hourly wages of $11.18 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $9.06 and $14.88. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.14, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $19.94. Employers of demonstrators and product promoters generally pay for job-related travel expenses.

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