Today’s post is by our regular Thursday contributor, Daisy Flower.
I can’t stand product parties. You know the ones: somebody is selling something, so they invite you over and you are stuck in a living room with a whole bunch of strangers, being force fed a product demonstration to show you just how well Tupperware works.
But it’s not just plastic housewares. Product parties have expanded out from kid’s clothing and food containers to jewelry, juice, beauty products, weight loss scams, and even intimate products.
I refuse to attend these parties, mainly because they make me uncomfortable, but also because I tend to end up leaving with a whole bunch of product that I didn’t need and don’t even really want.
Why have they become such a popular way of selling things in the past decade? Well, because they work. Parties are a very effective method of selling whatever it is that the company is carrying. They use many different tactics that all end up sucking you into parting with your hard earned cash.
Physically, shopping from your couch is much more comfortable than standing at a kiosk in an over-air conditioned mall. Even if you are uncomfortable with the social situation, it’s a lot more comfortable to buy something when you are siting there with like minded individuals, watching a private demonstration, sipping champagne and eating wafers.
You’re not thinking about the cost of the product or your financial situation when you are in this “zone”, you are thinking about only the product. There are no competing products vying for your attention.
Ability to “Test” the Product
One of the ways that many of us regulate our desire to purchase something is by telling ourselves that we don’t know whether it works, or whether it’s worth the money, and what if we don’t like it when we take it home?
Product parties remove this concern from our minds. The demonstrator gives us a shot glass of the healing potion and we find that we actually quite like the taste. (S)he shows us a video of happy, healthy people cured of their ailments after drinking the juice. You feel healthier when drinking the juice after having just watched the video. You’re sold.
Product parties remove our excuses.
I remember being at one of these awful product parties for a skin care regimen. The demonstrator was applying the cream to my face and remarking about how it made my skin glow.
I didn’t see a difference, but the other women at the party were all buying into it, so I caved and pretended like I saw the value in it, too. I ended up buying a $40 bottle of skin cream which really didn’t work.
The other party goers laid some subtle, and probably subconscious peer pressure on me and a few other reluctant guests, making us open our wallets.
Keeping Up with the Joneses
Despite that I am a strong, free-thinking individual, I have to admit that if I am in a room full of people opening their wallets and throwing their money around, I don’t want to seem like the broke one that came for the free wafers.
We’re only human, and we of course want to keep up and not be judged.
Feeding Off of Your Discomfort
I’ve never been to one of these parties where I’ve felt completely comfortable, and I am pretty sure that most of the other attendees also felt a little off.
As a result, we tend to show a lot of interest in the product to avoid having to make small talk or just sit there uncomfortably. You end up buying it just to make yourself feel more comfortable with the situation.
Product parties work, but not in mysterious ways. Many of the companies that offer this method as a sales tactic become very successful, as do their representatives who earn a commission off of the sales from the party. Next time you are invited to one, keep these methods in mind so that you don’t get sucked into the trap.
Have you ever been to a product party? Did you end up leaving with a bunch of stuff you didn’t need?