Exploring Consumer Desire for Real-World Product Demonstrations

June 16, 2021 Full Contact

Exploring Consumer Desire for Real-World Product Demonstrations

Consumers want real-world product demonstrations. Whether they are looking to find themselves represented in the product experience, they want to see causes that are important to them highlighted or are they just looking to see everyday solutions in action, consumers appreciate ads that are truthful, real, and relatable in presenting their products. To better understand this “show and tell” trend, Full Contact intern, Taylor Blowers decided to investigate.

What We’re Seeing:

This isn’t just a new trend, but rather what I like to call a “transparency in realness” movement. In 2018, Billie, a women’s subscription razor brand, was the first to show on screen a variety of women with various spots of real body hair before the shave demonstration. Billie razor company champions their messaging of realness in their #projectbodyhair campaign and encourages other brands to call out social biases like the pink tax, the percent increase that women pay for personal hygiene products vs. men, as well.

Secret Stress Sweat Ad*

However, hair removal isn’t the only category impacted by this consumer-driven desire for realism. Deodorant companies have joined in. In fact, Dove UK held a #ArmsUp campaign in 2019 celebrating women’s diverse underarms. Deodorant brand Secret had a similar approach by showcasing “real life” situations like the one pictured where a businesswoman wearing a pit-stained shirt tries desperately to dry her shirt nonchalantly in her workplace bathroom.

In 2020, another development in the realness trend happened with menstruation products. Kotex became the first mainstream hygiene brand to use red liquid instead of the usual infamous blue liquid in commercials and absorption demonstrations. Kotex made the change after conducting research among 10,000 women, in which 74 percent of respondents said they wanted to see more realism in how periods were represented by brands in advertisements.

This year a lingerie company called ThirdLove debuted a playful spot where bra users attend “couples therapy” with a relationship coach, Bar’Bra Boulders. The spot opens with a woman complaining about an enlarged bra named “Back Bulge Bra” that needs to get off her back. Boulders encourage her bra patients to “break up with their bad bras” and realize that “your boobs deserve ThirdLove”. The spot explores a plethora of bra confrontations until the interviews show participants raving about their new bra from ThirdLove. According to the Wall Street Journal, ThirdLove has already topped $100 million in sales revenue.

As with most trends though, there is bound to be push back. Take for example the debate on whether women breastfeeding their children should be shown in ads. USA Today published an article, among other outlets, explaining how nursing moms often experience shaming for breastfeeding their babies. Due to the taboo nature of breastfeeding, it was virtually unheard of to show it in an ad until recently. During NBC’s broadcast of the 2021 Golden Globe Awards, Frida aired a spot with a montage of women facing the highs and lows that come with breastfeeding. Although Frida’s spot was met with mostly positive feedback, Nike also aired a new spot this year that quickly gained mixed reviews. The new Nike spot showcases a line of athletic maternity wear for athlete mothers with the message that motherhood should be acknowledged as powerful, tough, and strong. On one side, people voiced their love for Nike associating how tough mothers can be at any stage with their active line. Another side pointed out Nike’s historical hypocrisy with their own sponsorship with Allyson Felix and other mother athletes who were discriminated against through pay cuts and other inequalities. Paralympian Lacey J. Henderson and others felt that the ad was late to the game in terms of accountability and acknowledgment as mentioned in an article by PopSugar. Although Nike and other companies might have good intentions to join the movement towards realism, companies also needed transparency to shine.

What Your Brand Can Do:

Now that we have explored how other brands provided more transparency and realism as they “show and tell” their consumers, here are some suggestions on how you can adopt this trend to fit what is right for your brand.

  • Consider whether there are opportunities to “get more real” in how you talk about and visualize your brand. Ask yourself questions like – Does it work with our overall brand strategy? Tone? Is this what our consumers want from us?
  • Assess how this trend aligns with your brand and your competitors. Ask questions like – How can using more realism expand our ability to communicate our product/brand advantages over our competitors? And vice versa.
  • Create opportunities to involve your consumers in the conversation. Do consumer research to gauge your brand guardrails and avoid blunders or major controversy.


*Photo Credit: [Secret Advertisement]
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