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Product Demo…Or Not

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

On a recent trip to Big Bazaar, an Indian supermarket chain, I came across an interesting product-demo station for Lifebuoy®  Superfast Handwash. The eye-catching station was located outside the personal care aisle and was building on the brand’s campaign “Visibly clean is not really clean.” It appeared to be a side-by-side challenge, offering consumers a chance to test the effectiveness of ordinary soap vs. Lifebuoy Superfast Handwash.

Using a black light box, consumers would be able to actually see the germs on their hands.Personally, I consider Lifebuoy to be a low-to mid-tier brand with a basic hygiene proposition and unappealing scent. But, the demo station was attractive and I had hand wash on my shopping list –was it time to challenge my perceptions? Curious to experience it firsthand, I dove right in.

I followed the instructions, first washing my hands with an ordinary bar of soap that was obviously used and a bit unhygienic-looking. Then, I put my hands inside the black light box to see if there were any germs left behind. Though surprised to see I did not have many germs on my hands, I continued with the demo, extending my hands to try some new Lifebuoy Superfast Handwash. At that moment, I was stopped by the demo attendant and told that the Lifebuoy Superfast Handwash on display was not for use. When I questioned why, he didn’t really have an answer but attempted to explain by saying that the products on display showcased the four new variants.

I was a bit upset, as I felt cheated out of the full experience.The demo lured me in to “experience” the product and (I assumed) prove its superiority over ordinary soap. However, it failed to demonstrate its effectiveness and opted to focus on its competitors’ shortcomings which, to me, were not significant.

Was this the intended demonstration or a mistake made by an ill-informed demo attendant? I’m not sure. But, at the end of the day, this demo didn’t win me over and I ended up purchasing a competing brand. Was I the only one left disappointed? If not, how often do failed demonstrations reinforce nonuser perceptions and shopping habits?

-Contributed by Priyanka Sah, Integer India

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