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BY JORDAN PINE
Description: A device for putting
Main Pitch: “The pain-free,
no-bend-over way to comfortably
put on your socks everyday”
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Second one
(just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar Products
Rating: 3 out of 5
Something strange has been happening. Some products that are not targeted to the mass
market have been succeeding on DRTV … even ones that appeal only to the dreaded “segment
of a segment.” This is just the latest example. At press time, this campaign was No. 5 on the
AdSphere Weekly Top 40. That level of spending indicates the campaign is working — and in a
broad way. Yet when you consider the market for this product — people who struggle to put on
their socks — it shouldn’t make sense to use mass media to reach it. What’s going on here?
The prevailing hypothesis is that the market for such products is much larger than originally thought. That is, while this looks like one of a hundred assistance devices you might find
in a catalog for senior citizens, its appeal actually extends to overweight people, the injured,
and others with flexibility limitations. This hypothesis arose after the success of the last project
that defied the targeted rule: Emson’s Car Cane. When it became a surprise hit, a few bright
folks pointed out that overweight and injured people also have trouble getting into and out of
cars, and that post-rationalization allowed the industry to move past the missed opportunity.
I wasn’t convinced, and I predicted the product would only do well at drugstores (where
the customer skews older). I was later informed that my prediction was correct. The item didn’t
do nearly as well at mass-market retailers. Emboldened, I am now predicting this project will
follow a similar sales pattern. If it does, we should consider the prevailing hypothesis to be
disproved — and we’ll need a new one.
Here’s my submission: These hits are outliers, plain and simple. Who knows why certain
projects defy the rules? It could be timing. For instance, there could be some behind-the-scenes
surge in awareness we couldn’t have predicted and can’t control. It could also be that an unexpectedly compelling demo has a special dose of whatever it is that makes things go
viral. My understanding is that both factors might have played a role here.
If you think about it, though, the bar for DRTV success isn’t actually that high. You
“only” need about 2 to 3 million people to buy your product for it to be considered a hit
in this business. Meanwhile, there are about 250 million adults in the United States.
That means the average TV product will capture a little more than 1 percent of its
potential market. Even if we then narrow that market to people older than 65 (a rough
approximation of the senior market), we’re still talking about 50 million people — that
means you must reach just 6 percent for success.
Is it so strange then that, every once in a while, a niche product generates enough
enthusiasm to capture that 6 percent?
Description: A veggie chopper
Main Pitch: “Super-strong copper
titanium blades are like using 24
miniature knives at once”
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with chopping
and dicing blades
Bonus: Second set
(just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Ontel Products
Rating: 2 out of 5
This is Old Gold with a new twist. The
original hit is National Express’s Chop
Wizard (2006-present). It also resembles
One Second Slicer (2014-2015). Therein
lay the two main problems I have with this
project. One: it’s too soon after a similar
item was on the charts. Two: the original
product is still selling. Choppers represent
the oldest and “goldest” category in DR.
We put at least a half-dozen through my
product-verification process every year
for this reason. Almost all of them fail.
That’s because it has become practically
impossible to find one that’s truly unique,
and even the “hits” end up being modest
successes at best. A played-out twist —
such as copper blades — doesn’t have
much of a chance of changing that. I do
love the name, though.
Rating: 3 out of 5 ; ; ; ; ; Rating: 2 out of 5 ; ; ; ; ;