The Emergence of Digital Food Demos During COVID-19

Getting listed in Canada’s grocery sector is an accomplishment in itself. Especially given in 2018, Canadian grocers delisted more products than new products they listed. Though some may tend to disagree with me, I feel the greatest challenge smaller brands face in this sector is “Staying Listed”. Staying listed in the sense the brand has a loyal consumer base who enjoys the benefits of the brand and product. Generating awareness and loyalty takes time and patience. Prior to COVID-19, research revealed one of the top ways to encourage consumers to purchase a product they had never been purchased before was in-store trial sampling. That was then, this is now. Due to COVID-19, in-store sampling is on hold. In this era, food brands are turning to the emergence of digital food demos.

Welcome to COVID-19: Emergence of Digital Food Demos!

digital food demos

What is a digital demo? “Digital Food Demos mobilize real shoppers to buy, try, write about, and even share about specific products from specific retailers. An alternative to traditional product demonstrations, Digital Demos drive product trial, track repeat purchase, and generate positive word-of-mouth”.

Unlike in-store demonstrations, Digital Food Demos:

    1. Connect with highly targeted consumers.
    2. No lead-time is required. Brands can start immediately.
    3. Brands receive feedback on their product from the consumer.

Digital Demos undertake a 7-step process to success:[i]

Step 1: Targeted shoppers accepts job in the field agent app.

Step 2: The product is purchased by the shopper at a specified store.

Step 3: Shopper tries the product at home.

Step 4: Shopper answers questions and rates the product on a 1-10 scale.

Step 5: If the product receives a rating of 7 or higher, answers are styled into an article.

Step 6: Shopper can share their article on social media.

Step 7: Shoppers re-purchase the product on their own accord after demo completion.

The initial results from a small case study sample base have been quite impressive. For instance:

1. Michael Angelo’s and the launch of their new meat lasagna:

a. Total units sold – 551 of which 454 were first-time buyers with an average shopper rating of 9.[ii]

2. General Mills (US) and the launch of their dairy-free yogurt:

a. 93% of the buyers were first-time purchasers.

b. 90% rated the yogurt 7+.

c. 86% of consumers planned to purchase the yogurt following the digital demo.[iii]

Due to COVID-19, consumers are doing less browsing and taking fewer trips to the grocery store. The consequence is reduced brand awareness, especially for new entrants. As such, brands need to reinvest differently in shopper marketing to be effective in this new environment. Digital food demos just may represent the first of many alternative way’s CPG brands will contemplate connecting with their target audience during this pandemic.





[iii] General Mills, A New Case Study in Brief, Field Agent