The importance of product demonstration

There is no doubting the stratospheric rise of online shopping over the last decade. Mass online sales began with books, but all types of products soon followed – and now people are happy to buy almost anything via their laptops, desktops, tablets and phones.

But if everyone is happy to buy online, what is the point of bricks & mortar stores? Is it time for them all to admit defeat and become artisan coffee shops and yoga studios instead?

The answer in some cases might be yes. Buying online is more convenient and often cheaper. But there is one element of the shopper experience that cannot be replicated online (however hard they try with tools like VR and AI) and that is product demonstration.

And product demonstration is absolutely vital across so many different types of products. If you want a new bed, are you going to trust how comfortable it is from product descriptions and review sites, or are you going to want to lie on it yourself? If you’re in the market for a new TV, coffee machine or music system, are you going to carry out all your research online, or would you prefer to talk to a store expert as well and get a personal product demonstration of the different options?

An immersive product demonstration, delivered by a product expert with an approachable and enthusiastic personality is absolutely central to moving the majority of consumers from the browsing stage to purchase for big ticket items.

But product demonstrations offer more than that too because they double up as a personal and immersive brand experience – which is exceptionally powerful at shaping consumer opinion for the long term.

For example, you may not want to buy a coffee machine at the moment. But a smiling lady in your local John Lewis offers to make you a coffee on one wet Sunday afternoon and it sounds like a good idea. During your five minute product demonstration, you learn how to make the coffee, and then how good it tastes. Perhaps you also learn about Lavazza’s partnership with Save the Children or its strong Italian roots and 120 year history. A few months later it’s the festive season and suddenly a great idea pops into your head for a Christmas present for your wife…

There is of course the trend of consumers enjoying product demonstrations in-store and then going home and purchasing the item online. For a while, that made retailers panic. But slowly they are realising that this change to the consumer journey is fine, as long as they have a good online presence too. Bricks & mortar stores are changing in their purpose, and some are failing in this transformation – but the value of product demonstration is only becoming more apparent

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