Why “As Seen on TV” Products Are So Infuriatingly Successful
We have all seen them, the over-the-top infomercials pitching those products that we love to hate. The commercials with the cheesy pitchman or the inept person that can’t flip a pancake successfully without the aid of the Wonder Spatula. The As Seen on TV industry has been the brunt of many jokes and parodies over the years but the truth of the matter is that it is a $400 billion dollar industry. So what makes the products that so many of us make fun of so successful? The answer is that the long-term players follow a formula: Solve a problem, know and speak clearly to your customer and sell it at an impulse price-point.
Most As Seen on TV products follow a golden rule, “Does the product solve a problem?” What the industry has become brilliant at is creating a problem that the consumer didn’t even know they had. While some successful products deviate from this rule such as children’s toys, most of the time the product lines don’t stray far from this. For example, Allstar Products, the makers of “Snuggie,” have created a problem/solution with the backward robe touted as a blanket that won’t fall off suddenly while you watch your favorite TV show or outdoor sports event.
The other important factor is the price point. Most products, you will find, fall into the impulse $9.99, $19.99 price point eliminating the need for the consumer to mull over the purchase with much scrutiny. The products usually offer a value proposition not only at the price point but usually in the multi-use functions of the product. Take for example the Finishing Touch Lumina Personal Hair Remover for women by Ideavillage. The pen trimmer will buzz away that unsightly upper lip hair but also has attachments to shape your eyebrows, trim nose and uni-brow hair all for a bargain price of $9.99. This flagship product became so successful that big players like Remmington, Panasonic and Braun were paying attention and launched their own version of pen trimmers offering the same features at the same price point.
Packaging is also a key to their success since the age of consumers ordering the products over the phone is almost obsolete. The products no longer have the luxury of the infomercials to familiarize the consumer with the products. Without a brand name to stand behind most of the new products the industry has to quickly educate the consumer in an average of 3-5 seconds. They accomplish this with bright attention grabbing colors, violator bars and bold callouts that tell the story of the product’s features and benefits while cutting out the “noise.” Moreover, visuals of the features and benefits accompany the callouts to highlight the product without having to read anything, further guaranteeing that the customer understands what the product does despite being unfamiliar with it.
The industry’s success has been lectured about in academic institutions such as Harvard and NYU because it is an outlier. It is a success story that continues to thrive despite the blemished reputation. It has the luxury to quickly adapt since its core products are usually “one hit wonder” items. They are a case study in understanding their customer and always reaching to meet their needs, even though it may be a need they never knew they had.