June 01, 2008

New This Week: Hair Block, Crunchless Abs, Perfect Pizza and more

I saw some promising summer items this week, including a hair remover that’s just in time for bikini season and another great way to get those “beach abs.” Both have a solid shot at success. And then there’s item #3, a fun product I like but that may or may not appeal to the mass market. In any case, it seems the major players are back in the marketplace taking their shots, testing now so they can roll out when third-quarter media opens up.

1. HAIR BLOCK ($9.95) is a roll-on depilatory. The pitch: Instant hair removal with “no pain, no mess and no bumps.” It’s also supposed to prevent hair from growing back. Positioned toward women and men. Presented for use on legs, arms, face and bikini area. The offer is buy one, get one free. This is a Lipenwald product. www.BuyHairBlock.com

Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
The hair removal category is a hot DRTV category. Some of the biggest successes in DR have come from this category, including the most successful campaign I ever worked on: Finishing Touch. As for this item, I can see it working if well-established reservations about depilatories are overcome. This amounts to a deficiency in the “credibility” category. That is, the product is only as credible as depilatories are credible in the marketplace.

2. CRUNCHLESS ABS ($9.99) is an abdominal workout program. The main claim: Research shows that “standard floor crunches train only two” of our core muscles. This program “focuses on each core muscle like a laser,” including upper abs, lower abs, side obliques and the lower back. The offer is for one workout DVD. The bonus is two additional DVDs, free. This is a Savvier product presented by fitness expert Linda LaRue. www.CrunchlessAbs.com

Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
As I’ve mentioned before, the “abs” category seems to be a bottomless wellspring of hit DRTV products. Every year, without fail, some product with the word “ab” in the name makes the annual charts. In other words, the odds of success for this item, as with any reasonably priced item in this category, are high from the start. They’re even higher because of the great value price. Still, I see one potential weakness that could undermine the campaign: It’s positioned against regular crunches. How many people do those any more? These days, people are using ab gadgets, hip-hopping their way to a slimmer waistline or using one of Guthy-Renker’s many Pilates workouts and/or its new machine. In other words, people will really have to buy into Linda LaRue’s alleged scientific breakthrough to give this a shot.

3. PERFECT PIZZA ($19.99) is a device for making homemade pizza. It features a spinning tray with a hand crank that’s supposed to spin the dough the way a pizza chef does. The pitch: “Cook authentic NY style hand-tossed pizza in your very own kitchen.” The offer includes the pizza spinner and a “professional” baking screen. The bonuses are a recipe guide and a pizza wheel for cutting slices. This is a Merchant Media product pitched by Cathy Mitchell. www.BuyPerfectPizza.com

Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
I like this item personally because I love NY-style pizza and think it would be fun to try making it at home. Beyond the fun factor, however, this item faces a few challenges. One, despite the commercial’s claim that “everyone loves New York thin-crust pizza,” that just isn’t true. For many parts of the country, the product won’t play. Two, it doesn’t solve a real problem. They try to make a case that pizza is expensive (it is) and the quality is poor (novices can do better at home?), but those are weak problems. Three, the way the pizza spinner makes a perfect pizza every time in the commercial strains credibility. Still, if enough people are captivated the way I was, it may just be a moderate hit. This product has a lot of “wow factor,” and the marketing team did a good job of making me hungry for pizza!

4. DYNO-MITE ($10) is a dryer sheet designed to kill dust mites. The pitch: “Like a super-charged magnet, [it] traps, holds and kills ugly dust mites.” The offer is for 12 sheets. The bonus is 12 more free, just pay additional S&H. This is a Telebrands product. www.DynoMiteSheets.com
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
The big problem with this product becomes clear after you watch the commercial. Any time your spokesperson must say, “Trust me, they ARE there,” or set up a demo such as, “Imagine this confetti …” odds are the item is going to struggle on DRTV. That’s because one of the most basic criterion for a DRTV item is it has to be demonstrable. Let’s not forget the roots of this industry: the pitch market. If you can’t imagine a guy at a booth amazing people with demonstrations of your item (think Sham Wow), it’s probably a long shot.

5. POCKET PURIFIER ($19.95) is a handheld disinfectant light and flashlight. The main claim: “Uses the same germicidal ultraviolet light technology used in hospitals to sterilize surgical equipment.” Specifically, the UV-C bulb is supposed to “deactivate the DNA of bacteria and germs” when exposed to the light for “10 to 15 seconds.” Available in black or pink. The bonus is a free replacement bulb. This is an Incredible Discoveries product. www.BuyPocketPurifier.com
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7*
Comments:
I’ve reviewed a lot of items for germaphobes in my day and, generally speaking, I think they are wrong for DRTV. The ones that have tested have so far proved me right. In fact, I’m not aware of any successful DRTV item in this category. If you know of one, please post a comment and correct me. Anyway, the reason products like these don’t do well on DRTV is that: a) you can’t see germs, so you have to rely on (fake) animation to demo the product, and b) germaphobia is not a mass market trend. Many disagree with me on the latter point and use the success of Lysol or Purell as examples. But Lysol is really a cleaning product, and Purell is really a convenient way to wash your hands when soap and water aren’t available or practical. Neither represents widespread fear of germs, in my opinion, at least not at a level that would motivate an impulse purchase of a product like this. On a side note, this product isn’t very credible. A pocket-sized device that deactivates DNA with light? Maybe in the new Star Trek.

Sources: “New Spots for Week Ending 5/30/08,” IMS (1, 5); "Vol. XVII, No. 32-B for 5/30/08 and 6/6/08,” Jordan Whitney (2-4)

* See my July 24, 2007 post for a complete explanation of the D7 product score.
** See my October 22, 2007 post for a complete explanation of my commercial rating system.

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