April 28, 2016

The Hit Halo Effect

"[P]erformance creates a Halo that shapes the way we perceive strategy, leadership, people, culture, and more," wrote Professor Phil Rosenzweig in his 2007 book, The Halo Effect. In this month's Field Report, I explore how this effect applies to products.

In our industry, it results in a predictable phenomenon: Every hit will inevitably be followed by at least nine failed attempts to replicate that hit. Click here to read the post.

April 21, 2016

SciMark Report from April Response

My SciMark Report in print for April is now available on the Response Website.

This month, I cover three projects that were tried to see if a surprise hit was an outlier or a category. They are: IdeaVillage's Magic Puzzle, Telebrands' Smart Swab and Hampton's Brighter Viewer.

April 14, 2016

Time for Change

I launched this blog almost nine years ago. It has exceeded my expectations in every way. What started with a few dozen readers (leftovers from an internal email I sent to colleagues) has grown to nearly 1,200 subscribers. Along the way, The SciMark Report became one of the industry's most-read publications, earned me accolades, helped me gain clients and served its original purpose in spades. I set out to provide a free public library of DRTV tests, but I (mostly by accident) accomplished much more.

It hasn't been all positive, though. Publishing such a thorough report is a labor of love, and the labor often exceeds the love. I have also seen, on too many occasions now, how my posts can make life difficult for people I care about. It is primarily this latter problem that has led me to decide it's time for change.

Going forward, The SciMark Report will be more occasional and not nearly as comprehensive. I intend to focus less on specific projects and more on trends, categories, case studies and industry developments. I am also going to wait to write about new projects until they appear on the charts. That's the only way to avoid breaking news and inadvertently assisting copycats.

I'm optimistic that the end result will be an even better blog. As always, I welcome your feedback.

April 10, 2016

Blue Hawk & HD Clear Dash

Blue Hawk

Main Pitch: "High-definition dash cam ... records all audio and video like a hawk"
Main Offer: $39.99 for one with window decal
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Watch the spot

HD Clear Dash

Main Pitch: "Dashboard cam gives you instant replay for your car"
Main Offer: $29.99 for one
Bonus: Car charger, 14-hour memory chip (free)
Marketer: Tristar
Watch the spot

These two projects follow InvenTel's DashCam Pro, which was a True Top Spender of 2015.

Catch-Up Round-Up

I've fallen behind, so here's a BIG Monday round-up to catch you up and kick off your week ...

  1. Fuzzeez. Pitch: "The fuzzy friends you make yourself." Comments: Not long after Build-A-Bear became a trend, several toy companies tried DIY stuffed animals. After a high-profile bomb at Toys "R" Us and a few less-than-stellar DRTV attempts as well, the concept died. The closest thing to a success was IdeaVillage's Wuggle Pets in 2001-2012, which came during the Pillow Pet-fueled plush craze days. Anyway, given that history and the post-craze timing, it seems unlikely this one will do well. [ss]
  3. Shakeez. Starring: Dave Sinclair. Marketer: IdeaVillage. Pitch: "The fun, fast and easy way to make delicious shakes on the go." Comments: This one disappeared quickly, and it's no wonder. Shaker cups are ubiquitous, and this one's point of difference isn't very credible. [ss]
  5. Speed Sleeves. Brand: Copper Fit. Marketer: IdeaVillage. Pitch: "The compression calf sleeve that lets you play and train without the pain." Comments: IdeaVillage continues to expand their line. I have to wonder if it's diminishing returns at this point. Don't these later extensions eat into the profits created by earlier successes? [ss]
  7. Tough Knees. Brand: Copper Fit. Marketer: IdeaVillage. Pitch: "The compression support sleeve with padded knee protection." Comments: Ditto the comments and question above. If the answer is no, I'd really like to understand how one manages so many extensions efficiently. [ss]
  9. Miracle Bamboo Bra. Marketer: Ontel. Pitch: "The most comfortable bra you'll ever own." Comments: I'm not sure I understand the brand-extension strategy here. The Miracle Bamboo Pillow is selling, so women will want the same material in a bra? Or is it just easier to use a name you already own? IdeaVillage does similar things with their brands. I have yet to hear a good argument for it. At least the material makes sense for a bra. The same can't be said for how copper is being used these days. More to the point: What shot does this have with Tristar's Genie brand owning this position? And isn't this just an invitation to be imitated? [ss]
  11. Ab Bow. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Delivers a full body workout with perfect form." Comments: At $80 with a $19.99 trial, this is either part of a long-form strategy or a new foray into the DR fitness business model. [ss]
  13. Couch Coat. Marketer: Telebrands. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Pitch: "The remarkable reversible quilted cover that protects and revives your couch." Comments: This is a good problem solver for parents and pet owners, but I wonder if it's different enough to motivate people off their (uncovered) couches. [ss]
  15. Green Zone. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Virtually eliminates blind spots around your truck or car." Comments: My guess is that this is a second try for Clear Lane Mirror, which Tristar tested in early 2015. Since then, Allstar and Lenfest also tried a rearview mirror version (see XtraView Mirror) that didn't roll out. [ss]
  17. Jupiter Beams. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "The amazing new way to add light to each of your fingers." Comments: This seems like a long shot, and the creative skews toward tweens, which is one of the least DR-responsive demographics. [ss]
  19. Grabtastic. Marketer: Tristar. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Pitch: "Never burn your hands again with the highest rated, waterproof, heat-resistant cooking gloves." Comments: Ontel just tested this item in January. See my review of Hot Hands for my thoughts. If I'm wrong and there's something to this, it could develop into an unexpected DRFC. [ss]
  21. Twitching Lure. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "The lure that twitches, flashes and buzzes like a wounded bait fish." Comments: Fishing is a dead category for DRTV. Until I see signs of new life, I'm just going to post these here for posterity. [ss]
  23. Soaker Snake. Marketer: Harvest. Pitch: "The all new plant hydration and nutrient delivery system." Comments: This is a clever idea, but no plant-watering product has worked since Allstar's Aqua Globes (circa 2008) ... and at least a half-dozen have been tried. [ss]
  25. Straight Up. Brand: InStyler. Pitch: "Instantly brush your hair straight." Comments: Another marketer enters the fray. InStyler is an established, credible brand for styling tools. But they're also $20 more expensive than the other three. [ss]
  27. Take Out Buddy. Pitch: "The easy-to-use food leveling system." Comments: Another item that should never have made it past the idea phase, let alone onto TV. [ss]