Have you ever walked into the grocery store and noticed there were people standing around giving out free samples? Whether or not you walk over and grab a free sample of pizza, or cheese or coffee or whatever the item of the day is, you can’t help but wonder how and why these people are just standing around and offering free food to anyone and everyone.
Well, as you can see from the image above, I used to be one of these people…for three years. I did demos on weekends at a local grocery stores when I was in college and based on my experience, this a better part-time job or side hustle than a full-time job. Which makes it perfect for my side hustle post of the week.
Around the time I got started, I was mainly looking for a way to make extra money that didn’t require a lot of time and effort. One day I was at the grocery store with my mom and I saw a man standing near a cart with food and he didn’t seem like he was doing much at all.
It seemed like such an easy job so I worked up the nerve to ask him what company he worked for and how I could do his job as well. When he told me, I applied online and heard nothing for weeks. Around two months later, I got called for a phone interview and the rest is history.
So What Do These People Do?
Product demonstrators conduct what’s called a ‘demo’ in certain stores for a specific amount of time where they promote a product and allow people to try a sample. Some demos are 4 hours, some are 6 and some are even 8 hours long. The demos are conducted at various different places including indoor and outdoor events and stores like Walmart, Jewel, Meijer, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, Costco etc.
Product demonstrators aren’t always hired by these individual stores and most of them work for larger sales and marketing companies who have contracts with major retailers and place their employees there to boost product sales. While I did demos for mostly food and drink products, other people promote a wide array of items like cleaning products, accessories, carpets and rugs, dietary supplements, skin care products, and so on.
A product demonstrator’s main goal is to boost sales and product awareness by engaging with customers throughout the store, offering them a product to taste or take home, and encouraging them to make a purchase.
Sound easy enough? That’s why I liked working such a low maintenance job but lets go through some of the pros and cons to get a better understanding of what the job entails.
- For a side job, the pay is better than minimum wage. Most product demonstrators can expect to make at least $11-13/hour starting out and some even make up to $20/hour if they are representing more high-end products.
- You receive training once you get hired and continuously throughout your employment (it’s often paid training as well).
- As hinted in my first point, most of these positions aren’t commission only. I’ve worked as a product demonstrator with 4 different companies and they all paid hourly and even one added a bonus based on the sales I made. Aggressive sales is NOT my strong point and I wouldn’t be able to make it if my work compensated by commission only.
- You get to learn a lot of new recipes and become knowledgeable about various products. Sometimes you even get free products to take home 🙂 I learned some of my favorite recipes from demo jobs and it really allowed me to become more open to trying new food
- You get to meet and interact with a wide range of people. If you’re social and enjoy talking to different people, you’ll like that this job encourages meeting and connecting with others regularly.
- The job requires that you stand your entire shift. Enough said.
- Sometimes you may be asked to travel. Depending on which company hires you, your job may be to travel to various different stores each week/end and it can be a hassle to pack up and travel to a new store each time you work. Most stores will be within your desired area though, but mileage I always found it a hassle to get mileage reimbursement if I didn’t travel more than an hour away.
- It can get boring. If you work a 6 or 8 hour shift and the store is dead, you may not have much to do.
How Does it Work?
When you are hired by a company or retailer to do demos, you will either have a home store or you will be required to travel to various different stores within your region. As a veteran product demonstrator, I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I really favor having a home store because it’s easier to just to one store each week and get to know the products and the people who work there.
When you have a home store, all you need to do it show up when your shift starts, wear something that reflects the dress code, meet with your manager and get to work. Some stores have demo managers who will print out your demo information for the day and all you’ll need to do is grab the product off the shelf and set everything up.
If you don’t have a home store or an in-store demo manager, you’ll most likely be mailed a kit with supplies, a company credit card to purchase product and information for your demo. When you show up to the location, you’ll need to check in with management, set up and perform your demo.
Product demonstrating can be a very independent job depending on where/how you work and sometimes you may not even see your manager face-to-face. Most of the scheduling will be done online and after each demo you’ll have to fill out a brief report online.
How to Find Jobs
It’s very easy to make $300-500 a month or more doing demos each month. Since training is provided once you get the job, you really don’t need any special degrees or certifications to get hired.
Finding the jobs and getting hired can be the difficult part. If you’re interested in applying to become a product demonstrator, I’d suggest you make an effort to follow up with your application either by visiting or calling the in-store manager at the retailer you applied to or calling the marketing company to show your interest in the position and follow up with a regional manager.
Once you chat with a regional manager and exchange contact information with them, it’s very easy to close the deal and land the job since these companies are almost always looking for part-time help. Some companies and retailers that hire in-store product demonstrators include:
- Advantage Sales and Marketing
- Eat Well Distribution
- MCG Connect
Being an in-store demonstrator is a great way to earn some easy side income on the weekends or during the week, get out and meet new people and learn more about valuable products.
Did you know that in-store demonstrators usually earn a higher hourly rate than the sales associates who work in well-known stores like Walmart, Sam’s Club and Costco? Have you ever tried any amazing products from an in-store demonstrator?
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