December 11, 2008

New This Week: Purse Partner, Hook 'N Hang

Slim pickings this week. I saw quite a few re-tests but very few new spots worth blogging about. That's a mistake on the part of the industry. Now is the time for testing. The media environment is still great, but it's about to contract for a few weeks because of the holidays. Then, right after Christmas, media rates are going to drop like the stock market in November -- and media avails are going to skyrocket. Those who have winners ready to roll out are going to be the major beneficiaries of this "perfect storm," the likes of which we haven't seen in five years. Those who are unprepared to roll out, because they haven't pre-planned and pre-tested, are going to miss out big.

Some DRTV marketers are probably thinking they can test in January and still have time to take advantage of the first quarter bonanza. But there are two significant problems with testing in a crazy environment like the one we're about to experience. One, the early weeks are often so good that you leave millions of dollars on the table for every week you aren't prepared to spend big. Two, you get a distorted read that can cause "irrational exuberance" (to use another Wall Street analogy). Sales projections start to get crazy when media results look that good, leading to big bets on inventory. Then media contracts, response returns to a more realistic level and you're left with a factory or warehouse full of product. This is a risk even in rollout, but it's compounded when you're ordering off mere test results.

Bottom line: If you aren't testing now, it's already too late to maximize first quarter. So be cool and be cautious as we enter next year. It's still going to be a great time for the DRTV industry, even for the unprepared.

1. PURSE PARTNER ($19.95) is a hook for hanging a purse, so you don't have to lay it on the floor. The pitch: "Hang your purse almost anywhere." That includes tables, chairs, the back of a car seat or the door of a bathroom stall. The offer includes two hooks, one in "pearl white" and one in "crystal clear." Each one comes with its own drawstring satin bag. The bonus is two Clutch Partners, which are smaller versions made for clutch purses. This is an Einstein Laboratories (ELI) product pitched by Forbes Riley.
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good/Excellent**
This product [concept] has already been tried on DRTV. In September 2007, Telebrands tested a $10 version under the name Hollywood Purse Hook. (Or is it Pocketbook Hook? The online spot calls it a different name.) Apparently, the commercial failed. Back then I gave the item a six out of seven. I thought it had two flaws. It solves "a problem to which most women can relate, but is it painful enough?" I wondered. "Or have women discovered a good enough solution already?" I also thought the value perception was weak. "It looks like a good bonus item to me," I wrote. Still, at $10 for two (one is even plated in 24-karat gold) with stud earrings thrown in, I thought the Telebrands offer could work. This offer is twice as much for a lower-quality product. There are things to like about their product and their approach, though. For one thing, their bonus is more relevant to the product and may actually have a higher perceived value than the “Daimondion” (read "fake diamond") earrings that came with the Hollywood Purse Hook. More to the point, this commercial is better than its predecessor. The pitch is well thought out and carefully crafted to appeal to women. For example, it shows how the hook solves the problem of a purse falling off a car seat and spilling when the driver hits the brakes. (It hooks to the head rest.) Even better, it shows how the hook can be used in a public restroom -- not only to keep a purse off a nasty floor, but also to keep a stall door closed. There's even an "occupied" sign that goes on the side that faces out. Clever! But clever enough? Not if the past is any guide.

2. HOOK 'N HANG ($14.99) is a space-saving hanger. Each one holds up to 12 garments and folds down to save space. There are also smaller hooks down the front of the hanger for belts, handbags and neckties. The main claim: It gives you "10 times more closet space in seconds." The offer includes three hangers. The bonus is two sticky lint rollers, a regular size and a travel size.
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
This is another item that has already been tried. There's a twist, though, because this is a "blast from the past" item as well. As I explained in this post (see item #5), the original version of this product was called the Magic Hanger. The marketer: Telebrands, once again. (Even the bonus for this product is an old Telebrands hit.) In October of this year, Hampton Direct brought back the Magic Hanger concept under the name Wonder Hanger. Now comes this product, which is a better version of the Magic Hanger/Wonder Hanger idea. That's because it holds more than twice the number of garments per hanger, has the smaller hooks down the front and is more durably built. However, there is little reason to believe it will succeed. I checked the charts, and the Wonder Hanger just appeared for the first time on the Jordan Whitney at No. 49. On the IMS chart, it is nowhere to be found. Little "wonder": Even Telebrands tried and failed to revive this concept. In the summer of 2007, the company launched Tap 'N Turn, which it later renamed Closet Doubler. Despite having what I thought was a superior, more versatile design than the original Magic Hanger, the item failed to gain traction. One reason these items struggle is because of the weight issue. Although these products have the slots for multiple garments, that doesn't mean they (or your closet bar) can support the weight. This commercial does a good job of trying to overcome that barrier -- for once, someone did the "hanging weight demo" correctly -- but I don't think it will be enough. As far as I can tell, the only time this item has been successful was in the late 80s, when Telebrands is said to have sold 40 million units.

Sources: “New Spots for Week Ending 12/5/08,” IMS

* 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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