While COVID may have canceled happy places like Trader Joe's demo table, places like Costco and other big box stores have resumed giving away free samples. Although the latest strain has some people staying away from stores or unwilling to remove their masks in a crowded setting, business goes on. This includes silent selling for new and improved products that may otherwise get lost in a sea of familiar (or habitual) food brands. Food demonstrators make this happen without extensive culinary knowledge or training.
What to Expect
Knowing how to prepare foods is a good fundamental skill, along with basic housekeeping. We know shoppers (and their kids) can be messy without thinking but it's up to you to maintain an inviting atmosphere. Besides cleanliness, an engaging disposition helps along with the willingness to answer questions about the product. Remember, someone in shopping mode may be in the zone and may not want to look something up on a website later.
The demonstrator is also responsible for crowd management so it won't appear that one person is getting attention. Some demonstrators like to show off their catering or culinary training by creating designs but food merchandising company Hubert has some basic guidelines for setting up a food display at a grocery store.
Where the Work Is
There are many food merchandising companies that hire regularly for weekend shifts at major grocery chains. If you live in a large city where remote work is normal, there may be some weekday openings but most companies want to place staff where the crowds are. Hourly salaries start at around $12/hour but can go as high as $18 with a guarantee of 10-12 hours a week minimum.
On the other hand, you can also start your own small company. While starting an in-store demonstration service may appear straightforward, your personal expertise and sales skills are imperative when it comes to closing the deal. Although learning about the products is part of the job, you need to sell food makers and manufacturers on why you're the best person to represent their brand before the public. Food handling certification, special training, and other food or health-related knowledge will come in handy when presenting a prospectus to a client.
How to Find Work
Using search tags like "food demonstrator", "brand ambassador", "product promoter", and "food sampling" should get you a few leads that probably need to be filled this week. Another alternative would be to look up merchandising companies that offer a variety of services like mystery shopping and retail display. Some of the larger operations offer tutorials on how to get started and earn credentials that lead to more work.
Other than your own operation, opportunities for advancement within a company are few. However, if you fancy yourself a foodie with an entrepreneurial spirit, then creating a social media presence is the next logical step. Give helpful cooking tips, preparation ideas - or if you want to specialize, talk about how it has changed your life for the better! In the meantime, check out these food demo company leads