August 31, 2011

The Death of Impulse Buying?

Sometimes consumers take over my reviews and use them to exchange information about a product. This recent comment has become typical:

"I was almost ready to order these and decided to check the review and comments. I no longer have the urge to impulse shop for these ... Thanks for the info. I know better anyway but just needed some backup."

It's worth reflecting on what this behavior, which I think becomes more common every day, will mean for our industry.

August 27, 2011

Review: 7 Second Sparkle

Description: A jewelry cleaner
Main Pitch: "Cleans your jewelry with just a twist of the wrist"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Concepts TV
Prediction: On the Fence

Despite any supporting evidence, I've always liked jewelry cleaners for DRTV. (As my recent "Blast from the Past" post reminded me, I loved Spin 'N Sparkle, for example.) The pitch just makes good sense to me. Women love their jewelry and spend a lot of money acquiring it. Yet most either put up with dull gems or use messy cleaning methods (e.g. a toothbrush). There has to be an opportunity there if the solution is right.

Whether this is that solution remains to be seen, but I wouldn't be surprised if this one appears on my True Top 50 list.

Review: Scoop It

Description: A scoop for food
Main Pitch: "The easy way to get the food, the whole food and nothing but the food from the chopping board into the pan"
Main Offer: $10 for two
Bonus: 4-in-1 Nokes knife (just pay S&H)
Marketer: Smart Inventions
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Prediction: Likely to succeed

This one meets most of my Divine Seven criteria for DRTV products. The only questionable one is "problem solving." I'm not sure how big of a problem this is.

As for the commercial, it's a great example of what the Sullivan team can do. Not only do they nail the demos, they produce some of the best-looking spots in the industry.

Review: Lint Lizard

Description: A vacuum attachment
Main Pitch: "Cleans deep into your dryer making it more energy efficient and saving real money"
Main Offer: $10 for one plus a Dryer Ball
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay processing)
Marketer: Telebrands
Prediction: On the Fence

Ontel had a nice run with Dryer Max back in the day. This product is a better version of the idea, and I think it has been long enough for this sort of solution to make a comeback. I also like the anicillary uses for the product, especially cleaning in between and under the washer and dryer. Finally, the bonus makes perfect sense given the history and huge success of that item at retail.

All in all, I think this one is a good gamble. We'll see.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Carrie Wrap. Pitch: "Keep hair out of the way and get on with your day." Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Comments: My first impression of this product was that it does half of what Smart Invention's Turbie Twist did, and that item is still available at retail and recently failed a comeback attempt on DRTV. Although a similar item does well on live shopping, I see no reason to doubt my instincts with regard to DRTV. [a]
  2. Clever Canvas. Pitch: "Turn any picture into a professional canvas print." Marketer: Telebrands. Comments: Based on the quality of the commercial, this is one of those "throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks" tests. I think it will slide off. As for the item, I'm on the fence. It doesn't solve a problem, but the end result has certainly proven its appeal in the marketplace. [a]
  3. FabriClear. Pitch: "Kill bedbugs on contact with safe, non-toxic spray." Comments: In general, I don't think it's possible to turn media hype into sales if an item doesn't meet the criteria for DRTV. All attempts to capitalize on the Swine Flu scare, for example, failed. I see bed bug products going the same way. The arguments are either prevention or "selling the invisible" -- that is, trying to convince people they have a problem they can't see. [a]
  4. Floral Imposters. Pitch: "Beautiful flowers in your garden with none of the work." Marketer: Telebrands. Comments: Another flyer. Not quite sure what to make of it, in fact. I don't understand the rationale. [a]
  5. Paw Power. Pitch: "Everything you need to safely walk the dog, all in one." Comments: Too many problems with this one to cover in a short post, but leashes in general are a tough sell on DRTV. I've seen many over the years, but none have ever gone anywhere. I do like the bonus, though. [a]
  6. Slant Pan. Pitch: "Get the fat out, leave the flavor in." Marketer: Telebrands. Comments: P.T. Barnum would have loved this one: It's designed for his favorite type of customer! Going back to my "see if it sticks" comment, I predict this one will slide faster than greasy ground beef in a slanted pan! [a]
  7. Spy Light. Pitch: "The ultimate solution for finding hidden contagions before they find you." Comments: Only hard-core germaphobes or CSI addicts would even consider buying this product. It made sense as a bonus for Urine Gone, but there's no case for making it a lead item. [a]

August 15, 2011

Review: Insta Hang

Description: A peg dispenser
Main Pitch: "Lets you hang any picture, any object big or small, on any wall in seconds"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one with 50-piece accessory kit
Bonus: 2nd accessory kit, six picture frames (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Hampton Direct
Prediction: Likely to succeed

I like this product, and it also happens to meet all of my Divine Seven criteria for DRTV products. A few are questionable, to be sure. Is hammering a nail really that big of a problem? Will people believe this tool is easy on the hands yet powerful enough to drive a tack through a stud? I'm not sure about either one. But all in all, I think there's enough here for this one to have a solid shot at success.

Review: Pet Spread


Description: A pet blanket
Main Pitch: "Designed to let your pets cuddle on the couch with you and still keep your couch like new"
Main Offer: One starting at $19.99
Bonus: 2nd one in same size, just pay processing
Marketer: Telebrands
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

The site for this one is inactive, so my prediction is a little unfair. But I've evaluated similar items in the past and have always shot them down because pet blankets are too easy to find in the marketplace.

On a separate note, this one is noteworthy because of the attempt to employ a "starting at" pricing strategy. It's a rare strategy I have seen used when sizes, and as a result material costs, vary widely. But I don't know of any positive case studies in recent years. Post a comment if you do.

August 13, 2011

Weekly Round-Up

Here are 10 quick reviews to keep you updated ...

  1. Big Skinny. Pitch: "The world's thinnest, lightest and most comfortable wallet." Comments: This is a good DRTV category, but there's only room for one and the one right now is Telebrands' Aluma Wallet. This commercial is also a bit lackluster compared to the competition. [a]
  2. Easy Treat Maker. Pitch: "Make delicious, homemade, heathy treats your pets will love." Comments: I doubt enough people care enough about the ingredients in dog treats to put the time and effort into baking their own. Plus, all natural pre-made treats are widely available. [a]
  3. Eye Beamers. Pitch: "A beam of light to improve your sight." Comments: Another sailor seduced by a Siren (see my iRayz review). [a]
  4. Keeper Sweeper. Pitch: "Don't toss it, keep it." Comments: Too much info too fast. As Ron Popeil once told me: "What is the perception of someone trying to sell you at a machine-gun pace? They are trying too hard, so it’s too good to be true." [a]
  5. Life Lantern. Pitch: "So bright it can fill an entire room with light." Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Producers Direct. Comments: This item is already at retail under different brands as a camping item, but I liked the idea of bringing it indoors and expanding its uses. [a]
  6. Micro Pedi. Pitch: "Leave your feet with baby soft skin." Comments: The $40 Emjoi version of IdeaVillage's Thera-Spin. [a]
  7. Re-scent It. Pitch: "Re-fill your favorite diffuser scents in seconds." Comments: Amateur hour. Plus, pure value plays (almost) never work in DR. [a]
  8. Stage Candle. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "It burns perfectly with no mess, right to the end." Comments: There must be some reason why Telebrands tests these things, but I'm left scratching my head once again. [a]
  9. Twin Brush. Pitch: "Two heads are better than one." Comments: The $30 version of Sylmark's 30 Second Smile. Even though its half the price, I don't think price sensitivity is much of an issue in this category, so these guys are second to market with a "me too" solution. [a]
  10. Work Brite. Pitch: "The wireless work light that's portable and bright." Comments: I'm just about ready to declare lighting a dead category for DRTV -- at least for now. Despite about a dozen attempts in recent history by all the major marketers (this is Telebrands' 4th attempt alone), no one has found success. [a]

Snazaroo Spot

(Producer: Concepts TV)

Saw this one on TV the other day. As I wrote when I posted Sullivan's Wacky Pens spot, it caught my interest because it's somewhat rare to see a kids' spot from a company other than Hutton-Miller.

The spot can be viewed on the product site at:

August 11, 2011

Dueling Openers

Review: Open 7

Description: A 7-in-1 kitchen opener
Main Pitch: "Safely opens anything and everything"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one, Chef Basket (just pay processing)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

In the July issue of Response magazine, I reviewed Hutton-Miller's Kitchen Candu. This is the same concept with one more use. Besides striking me as reverse Something-About-Mary logic, I think that extra use actually exacerbates the problems I had with the earlier product.

As for the commercial, this spot is certainly serviceable, but Hutton-Miller's was more compelling. Still, I give them both the same odds of success (low) because I just don't like these "Swiss Army knife" products for DRTV.

Wacky Pens Spot

(Producer: Sullivan Productions)

Thought I'd post this because most DRTV kids' spot have been done by one production company (Hutton-Miller), and it's interesting to see how another production company goes about it.

As for my opinion on the campaign, I have none. As I've mentioned before, I don't feel I know enough about this market to critique the work or make predictions.

August 01, 2011

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Body Back Buddy. Pitch: "Treat hard-to-reach sore muscles quickly and effectively." Comments: Odd-looking and expensive. Not much better than its predecessor, really. [a]
  2. Fuel Shark. Pitch: "Get up to 10% or more miles per gallon." Comments: Assuming this passes the sniff test for most people (a big assumption), I think these claims are likely to make the government come knocking (see Duralube). [a]
  3. Glow Grip. Pitch: "Glow in the dark super grip traction strips." Starring: David Jones. Comments: This product is from the people who brought you Uglu, but I think it is much less useful than that other product. Try thinking of three places in your home you would really use this, and you'll quickly see the problem. [a]
  4. Grabability. Starring: Adam Jay. Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Jordan Direct. Pitch: "Reach and grab in places you thought impossible." Comments: Neat product, bad name. I also found the 4-in-1 explanation confusing. In any case, past history suggests this "mini-Gopher" type of product doesn't really "grab" people. [a]
  5. Happy Wrap. Pitch: "The drug-free solution for separation anxiety, thunder, excessive barking and even jumping." Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Blue Moon Studios. Comments: My initial thought was this only appeals to a 'segment of a segment,' but I said the same thing about Barkoff and was clearly wrong. Besides, if it's good enough for Angela V., it's good enough for me! [a]
  6. Just Hit The Button. Pitch: The "Internet cutoff switch." Comments: Amateur hour. Prediction: Bomb. [a]
  7. Neckline Lifts. Pitch: "Tighten and tone in an instant." Comments: Before Dream Look (No. 14 on my spring True Top 50), I would have quickly dismissed this. But with better creative, who knows? [a]
  8. Office Abs. Pitch: "The ultimate ab workout that you can do while you work." Marketer: Telebrands. Comments: The site is already down. For the record, I've never heard of a succesful office workout product. That's probably because many (if not most) DRTV buyers are above the age of retirement. [a]
  9. Perfect Pocket. Pitch: "The fast, fun and easy way to make delicious filled food every day." Comments: If you have to go the store to buy pre-made dough, why wouldn't you just buy the pre-made finished versions of the food this makes? [a]
  10. Push Up Pump. Pitch: "Supports your body weight up to 78%, protecting your back 100% of the time." Comments: BodyRev's Perfect Pushup made pushups more difficult and was a big success. This does the opposite and costs five times as much. I don't see how that's a recipe for success. [a]
  11. Sonic Whisk. Pitch: "One pump is like whisking 10 times." Comments: I'm on the fence about this one. As a general rule, manual versions of powered products don't do well (see Kitchen King Pro). But the demos are neat, and sometimes these simple, inexpensive items become sleeper hits. [a]
  12. Spring Bak. Pitch: "Run faster, jump higher, lessen fatigue." Comments: I was excited about the promise of this product ... until I actually saw it. When I realized it was just another pair of insoles, it was a big let-down. So many insoles have failed on DRTV -- even cool ones like Impact Gel -- that the category is on my 'don't even bother' list (more on this here). [a]
  13. Stroll Control. Pitch: "The painless, instant way to keep any dog ... under control whenever you go for a walk." Marketer: Telebrands. Producer: Sullivan. Comments: I like the product and the commercial, but Allstar and Concepts tried a similar product a few years ago that was never heard from again. Maybe this time will be different? [a]
  14. Travel Table. Pitch: "Turns your pull-behind luggage handle into a productive workspace." Comments: This one is DOA. DRTV is not the proper medium for reaching this target market. [a]