November 25, 2009

Review: Precision Brow Planing System

Description: A kit for shaping eyebrows
Main Pitch: "Now you can have the natural, perfectly arched brow you've always wanted"
Main Offer: $39.95 for the complete kit
Bonus: Five professional brushes and an instruction book
Starring: Christi Harris
Marketer: The Christi Harris Companies
S7 Score: 5 out of 7 (?)

This is an excellent product idea supported by a beautiful commercial. There are only a few things that will prevent it from doing well on short-form DRTV.

The first is the kit's price. In most channels, the beauty category has a higher than average price barrier. But on DRTV, there is little evidence to suggest the typical price barrier of $20 can be exceeded. This is especially true in this economy. The line separating luxuries and necessities has never been brighter, and this kit is clearly a luxury.

The other major weakness I see is the complexity of the kit. All told, this is a nine-piece kit that planes, blends, diffuses, thickens, conceals and so on. In addition to the planing tool, there are three makeup colors and five brushes. A book titled "The Plane Truth About Brows" is included free -- not because it's a nice bonus per se, but because the detailed instructions inside are necessary to use the kit. This sort of complexity can hurt sales because DRTV buyers favor solutions that make life easier. This kit will be intimidating to many, especially since eyebrow sculpting is a high-stakes activity where taking shortcuts can lead to embarrassing results.

The kit's complexity also hurts the clarity of the commercial because a lot of information must be squeezed into two minutes of selling time. The time crunch creates other problems as well, such as critical before-and-after scenes disappearing before the viewer can fully process them. It also forces the VO announcer to engage in "speed talking," especially near the end of the spot. As the great Ron Popeil once told me: "What is the perception of someone who is trying to sell you at a machine-gun pace? They are trying too hard, so it’s too good to be true."

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