‘As Seen on TV’: Marketing Ideas Gleaned from Infomercials

I stumbled upon this CNBC Original Episode titled “As Seen on TV,” a revealing report on the $150 billion informercial industry … I tried to take decent notes but these are, at best, paraphrases from the report from various infomercial giants … there’s some real gold here:

  • “We tried to convince people of something they don’t need … yet.”
  • They wanted to break through the clutter and strike an emotional cord with viewers
  • Sometimes it takes more than 2 minutes to tell the product story
  • The key is making a “compelling, interesting offer,” an “a lot for a little approach,” which ties in with the “But wait, there’s more!”
  • One marketer said, “By the end, i’m sure people were confused by what they were getting but it was a lot.”
  • The guy behind the Chia Pet had one of the best, succinct definitions of success: “My lifeblood is trying to find new products that have instrinsic value, are patentable, have proper margins, mass appeal, and you put all those together.”
  • The formula is: Product + Pitch + Price = Informercial
  • “We fail 90% of the time.”
  • Product names need to “stick with consumer, be catchy, little fun, it can’t be too descriptive, but has to be descriptive, and let people remember it right away.”
  • Attaching celebrity to what you’re selling does well — i.e. over 100 million George Foreman Grills have sold
  • Optimum price is between $10-20 – “consumers don’t think twice and 99% of the time that’s where we need to be to get people to buy”
  • How soon does a company know a success? Two weeks. Two weeks is called “the test”
  • Sales need to be double what they spend on advertising, which is the most expensive component
  • Shipping and handling is profitable aspect, and they like to get $5.95-6.95
  • Retail is big for them and TV is just tool to get there
  • The Ped Egg was the no. 1 seller in Walgreens, outselling Snickers candy bars
  • At Walgreens, “As Seen on TV” products get prime placement, where people will make impulse buys and are the top categories in most stores

Some of the products mentioned:

  • Snuggies
  • Ginsu knives
  • Chia Pet
  • The Clapper
  • Doggy Steps
  • Ped Egg

P.S. — I think our household has at least 4-5 of the products mentioned. Wow! It works.

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4 thoughts on “‘As Seen on TV’: Marketing Ideas Gleaned from Infomercials”

  1. Hi Cory,

    I’m with you on owning a few of these products. I enjoy articles like this, because it’s always way more interesting to read about techniques that I know work (because I “fell” for them).


  2. “sometime it takes more than 2 minutes to tell the product story.”

    Interesting… It seems like the greater challenge is how to keep them watching for two minutes. That’s an eternity.

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