August 06, 2009

Review: Purse Buddy

Description: Purse organizing straps that go over a closet door
Main Pitch: "Holds up to 16 purses for easy storage"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: Shoes Under, just pay separate S&H
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Concepts TV
Product (D7) Score: 7 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good

There isn't much to say about this campaign. The product meets all the criteria for a good DRTV item. The commercial is a classic example of the DRTV style of advertising. The odds are strongly in favor of this one becoming another Telebrands hit.

My review would end here and be pretty boring (albeit for a good reason) if it weren't for one thing: The choice of bonus item. When I heard about it (HT: Christine P.), I was sure there had been some mistake. Marketers take their old DRTV hits and use them as bonus items all the time. After all, the item has proven its appeal, and it's a great way to get rid of excess inventory. But I have never found one example of someone using a current hit as a bonus. Not that I haven't debated the issue many times. I've just never seen someone actually go for it.

On the one hand, it seems awfully risky. Paying $10 or $20 for a product and then learning you could have gotten it for free is sure to generate the kind of negative word-of-mouth that prematurely kills campaigns. It's less damaging than a quality issue to be sure, but consumers hate feeling like they got ripped off. Plus, if you're a prospect considering a purchase, that bad buzz certainly won't help close the sale.

More to the point, the entire theory of DRTV-to-retail is predicated on the idea that discovering something in the store for less than the price you saw on TV is a significant driver of sales. Reversing that logic, then, seeing something in the store for $10 or $20 you saw on TV for free cannot be good for retail sales. Assuming for a second that this particular item is past its prime on TV but is still doing well at retail, this strategy is really pushing the concept of "channel loyalty" to its limits. (That is, the argument that buyers are loyal to a particular channel of sale, so they do not pay much attention to prices in a different channel of sale.)

On the other hand, many business gurus teach that you should always work hard to destroy your successes. The idea is that this "creative destruction" is going to occur anyway, so why not be both the loser and the beneficiary? The great Ron Popeil applied this logic to knockoffs and intentionally released inexpensive versions of his products to the market.

In that sense, maybe undermining the value of a post-peak DRTV hit by making it a bonus item isn't a bad idea. In theory, it's helping to fuel the rise of a new product to its peak.

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