As I mentioned in a recent post, I'm reading Jack Trout's In Search of the Obvious: The Antidote for Today's Marketing Mess. Here's another passage that peaked my interest because of how relevant it is to our industry:
Psychologists have outlined five basic risks that come into play, depending on what you are buying. They are:
1. Monetary risk. Is it worth the money?
2. Functional risk. Will it work as promised?
3. Physical risk. Is it safe to use?
4. Social risk. How will I look to my friends and neighbors if I buy it?
5. Psychological risk. How will I feel about myself for buying this product?
Thinking about these questions in the context of DRTV, it's clear why certain criteria became essential for success in our industry. For example, one way of explaining why the Divine Seven's "priced right" and "credibility" criteria are important is to talk about how they address monetary risk and functional risk. The below $20 price point all but eliminates the former. Making sure the product is good enough to generate authentic testimonials, pass lab tests and/or perform "right before your eyes" address the latter.
Physical risk is an interesting one. People have an inherent skepticism about the quality of DRTV products. The first question I'm usually asked about any item is, "Does it really work?" Now, raise the stakes by adding the risk of harm if the quality isn't right, and it's easy to see why certain items just aren't feasible for DRTV. Home electrolysis solutions come to mind. I think this may even affect products where bodily harm isn't a big concern. Take eyebrow shapers or home haircut solutions. They probably won't put you in the hospital, but they could cause embarrassing physical mistakes.
Speaking of embarrassment, the idea of social risk also provides food for thought. It's a rule of thumb that 90% of people won't buy off TV. Actually, I studied this once and found it was closer to 92%. We assume this is because of upsells, S&H charges, waiting 4-6 weeks for delivery, etc. But it may also be because of the social risk involved. Family, friends and other peers might make a person feel stupid for buying that too-good-to-be-true gadget off TV. Interestingly, buying the same item from retail might not represent the same risk because then it has the implied endorsement of the retailer. "It must a good product if it's sold at Bed Bath & Beyond," people will think.
Finally, there's psychological risk. How people feel about themselves after buying our products. Do they really end up with that "great deal" feeling we work so hard to engender (with value comparisons, special price reductions and bonuses)? Or do they experience "buyer's remorse" and feel like they were conned? If you haven't lost a little sleep wondering about this, you aren't paying attention. The people we rely on to make our TV campaigns successful call or click to get a $10 deal. But if we're doing a good job, they end up spending $50. Assuming they understand all the charges were necessary and properly disclosed -- and don't think us guilty of outright fraud -- how good do they feel about themselves when they get that bill?
As I mentioned earlier, when I started in this business the statistic was that 90% of people don't buy off TV. When I checked that number myself I found it was up to 92% ... and my research is now close to five years old. I suspect the percentage of people who will take the psychological risk of buying something off TV has continued to shrink. If the feedback I see online or the customer service calls I hear regularly are any indication, our pool of prospects is rapidly diminishing.
What do you think? Post a comment and share your thoughts with me. If you write something particularly thought-provoking, I'll share it in a follow-up posting.