Sales Demonstrator and Product Promoter

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Sales Demonstrator and Product Promoter

Education and Training High school and on-the-job training

Salary Median—$9.95 per hour

Employment Outlook Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Sales demonstrators show merchandise to customers in order to interest them in buying a product or a line of products. Product promoters try to persuade retail stores to sell products and market them in a specific way. Both demonstrators and product promoters work for the manufacturers of cosmetics, food, home care products, and household appliances. Many are employed on a temporary basis for a specific period of time.

Most demonstrators work in department stores, in supermarkets, and at conventions and exhibits. Some travel to homes. Others demonstrate products on television during "infomercials" or on home shopping programs. Product promoters, on the other hand, usually travel between retail operations spread out over a designated region. Demonstrators and product promoters who work for the manufacturers of industrial hardware and machinery demonstrate their products at conventions, trade shows, and county fairs.

Demonstrators and product promoters usually have a prepared speech that they deliver as they demonstrate the product, but their activities vary according to the type of merchandise they sell. For example, many demonstrators work in supermarkets introducing new food products. Some of these demonstrators hand out free samples while telling customers about the product; others actually cook the food in front of the customers. All demonstrators must be prepared to answer customers' questions about the featured merchandise.

Product promoters often bring promotional materials with them on their sales stops and pass them on to business owners. A liquor promoter, for instance, may

give a bar owner a neon sign or ashtrays showing the product logo. A soft drink promoter may provide a grocery store with banners, signs, or standing cardboard displays that prominently show off the drink in the middle of the store.

Both demonstrators and product promoters make reports about reactions to their employers' products and then present these reports to their managers. They may also participate in the design of an exhibit or presentation.

Education and Training Requirements

Demonstrators and product promoters are trained on the job, either by working with an experienced employee or through a formal company training program that includes classroom instruction. Employers usually require applicants to have a high school education. Demonstrators and product promoters of specialized items such as teaching aids and scientific apparatus may need course work at the college level in that specialty. Employers may also prefer to hire those who have previous experience in sales.

Getting the Job

A person interested in product demonstration or promotion can get a start in the field by registering with a temporary help or modeling agency; both types of agencies place workers in temporary demonstrator and product promotion jobs requiring little or no special training. Jobs in this field are advertised in newspapers want ads and on Internet job sites as well. Interested individuals should also contact manufacturing companies that employ and train their own demonstrators and product promoters.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

More than half of all demonstrators and product promoters work part time. Demonstrators and product promoters who work on a part-time or temporary basis usually advance as they gain experience by receiving more complicated assignments that offer higher wages. Those who work full time, especially those with a college degree, can advance to executive positions in sales, advertising, or public relations.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 120,000 people held jobs as demonstrators and product promoters in 2004. Employment of demonstrators and product promoters was expected to increase as fast as the average for all occupations between 2004 and 2014. Employment opportunities in this field grow with an increasing number of trade shows and in-store promotions at malls and department stores. In fact, the supply services industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the nation. Additional openings will arise from a need to replace workers who leave the field.

Working Conditions

Demonstrators are on their feet most of the working day, and product promoters spend a great deal of time in the car driving from one retail operation to the next. Working hours vary from a few hours a week for part-time workers to more than fifty hours a week for those demonstrating technical products on a full-time basis. Demonstrators and product promoters often work evenings and weekends.

Successful demonstrators and product promoters have pleasant, enthusiastic personalities and get along well with people. They have the patience needed to repeat the same speech and answer the same questions many times. They are also effective speakers. Some demonstrators and product promoters belong to labor unions.

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings for demonstrators and product promoters vary greatly. The median salary was $9.95 per hour in 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Where to Go for More Information

Direct Selling Association
1667 K St. NW, Ste. 1100
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 452-8866

Trade Show Exhibitors Association
2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., Ste. 1005
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 842-8732

Full-time store demonstrators earn salaries comparable to those of full-time sales workers. They can also earn commissions, or percentages of sales, based on their individual skills and experience. Demonstrators and product promoters with college and advanced degrees may earn more. Employers often pay for job-related travel expenses.