December 19, 2008

New This Week: HD Vision Ultras, Go Wallet, Zip Stik and Polar Delight

I reviewed four products this week, and it wasn't a bad week in the sense that no product received less than five out of seven on the D7 scale. However, such ratings can be deceiving. As I've explained before, certain shortcomings are worse than others. You can sometimes get by with questionable uniqueness or a lack of credibility. These are highly subjective criteria, after all. But if your product doesn't solve a problem, target a big enough market or cost less than $20, you are very likely to fail. For this reason, perhaps the D7 should be weighted. Then again, the system is really just for the purpose of thinking things through and increasing the odds of success. In any case, too many products in this week's report have what I consider fatal flaws.

1. HD VISION ULTRAS ($19.99) are sunglasses with special lenses. The pitch: They "reduce glare and increase color and clarity." This is an IdeaVillage product under the HD Vision brand, and a Morgan James commercial. www.GetHDVision.com
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
This product is an updated version of the original HD Vision sunglasses, of which millions were sold in 2002. It was also No. 25 on the Jordan Whitney annual chart that year. This 'new and improved' version represents a reverse line extension of sorts. That's because earlier this year, IdeaVillage launched HD Vision Wraparounds, a version of HD Vision sunglasses that fits over prescription glasses. Now the company is going back and reintroducing the product that started it all. I think the strategy makes a lot of sense, especially at retail.
(Full disclosure: I consulted on both projects.)

2. GO WALLET ($19.95) is a slim nylon wallet that attaches to a shoe's laces. It was originally used by runners to carry their valuables. The pitch: "Designed for those times when you don't want to lug a bulky wallet around." The offer is for two wallets, one in Jet Black and one in Midnight Blue. Then they double the offer to four wallets and also include four ID cards. The bonus is an eBook titled, "Mission Abdominals." This is an Incredible Discoveries product. www.BuyGoWallet.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: OK**
Comments:
It appears the success of the Slim Clip has renewed interest in the wallet category. But this remains a tough category for DRTV. Prior to Slim Clip, you'd have to go all the way back to the Magic Wallet to find a hit. There are several good reasons for that, and they all apply here. For one, wallets are a commodity category chock-full of every variation you can imagine. This includes runners' wallets, which is essentially what this is. Two, it's hard to get excited about a wallet in a "gotta have it" way, unless there is something really unique about it. The Magic Wallet performed a magic trick (click here to see it). The Slim Clip is the first double-sided money clip, so it can hold bills on one side and credit cards on the other. This wallet attaches to your shoe. That's useful too, I guess -- but only if you have a need for it. Which leads me to the biggest problem with this particular product: Its best market is a niche market, and DRTV is the wrong tool for reaching that market. On a separate note, the offer in this commercial makes no sense. I'm not sure why anyone would want four of these wallets, and giving away so many only serves to cheapen the product. Meanwhile, the bonus eBook comes out of left field and is barely explained. Because the offer is so important in a DRTV commercial, and this offer is ill-conceived, I had to take the rating down from "good" to "OK." (Full disclosure: I worked on the Slim Clip campaign.)

3. ZIP STIK ($14.95) is a metal yard stick that folds up. The pitch: It's "rigid enough for the shop, yet flexible enough for the home." It's also "five tools in one." Among other things, it can be used as a protractor/T-square, a level and has built-in calipers to lock in measurements. Plus, its tip is magnetized to pick up dropped nails, screws or bolts. This is a FitnessQuest product presented by the inventor, Curtis Taylor. www.4ZipStik.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
This product is well thought out and cleverly designed. The problem is the designer(s) may have gone too far. If you read this blog often, you know I'm not a fan of "Swiss Army knife" approaches -- that is, trying to make a product do too many things. DRTV products must be easy to explain because you have little more than one minute to do so, and you're even supposed to repeat your key selling points a few times. The many features of this item are lost in such a short format, and a few seem forced as well (a level?). Better to focus on the core, unique feature of this product, which is the "rigid yet flexible" attribute. It may not address a big enough problem, but tacking on a bunch of additional features doesn't help. It dilutes. If this commercial doesn't test well, I would take a "less is more" approach, re-edit and try again.

4. POLAR DELIGHT (Free Trial) is a gourmet dessert maker. The pitch: "Make over 50 gourmet desserts in under 15 minutes with virtually no mess." Some of the recipes include flan, crème brûlèe and tiramisu. It also makes homemade ice cream. The offer is for a free 14-day trial (just pay $14.95 S&H). The unit comes with a lithium battery and charger, 12 packets of flavor dessert mix (190 servings), a recipe book and a decorating guide. www.PolarDelight.com

Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
This product doesn't solve a problem, and its ultimate price is way above what your average DRTV buyer is willing to pay (four payments of $19.95). I don't think the free trial will alleviate that problem. Moreover, I think this product is being marketed at a very bad time. In this economy, few people are going to splurge on an $80 gourmet dessert maker. It just seems frivolous when people are at risk of losing their homes and their jobs. They try to make a "save money" pitch, but it falls flat. No one is thinking, "What a great way to save on those fancy Italian and French desserts my family needs."

Sources: “New Spots for Week Ending 12/12/08,” IMS (1); "Vol. XVIII, No. 8-B for 12/12/08,” 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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