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Direct Response Marketing

Hitting Close to Home

1 Mar, 2013 By: Jackie Jones Response

Direct response advertising continues to prove that the housewares industry is where the heart — and wallet — of consumers are.

Throughout the history of direct response advertising, the housewares vertical has always been a sector that shines bright.

There is no shortage of research to support the surge that the housewares industry is poised for, not to mention the success it’s already seen despite a struggling economy. While the housewares and specialties industry netted more than $19 billion back in 2010, total revenues just a year later in 2011 were $49.3 billion, according to MarketLine reports.

The housewares industry was expected to continue to grow, increasing nearly 5 percent between then and 2015, and even reach $67.4 billion by the end of 2016. Furthermore, the housewares industry claimed a major portion of last year’s top-ranked infomercials and DRTV spots determined by Infomercial Monitoring Service Inc. (IMS) (Response Magazine, December 2012). Thirteen of the 50 long-form infomercial commercials ranked highest by IMS fell into the housewares or household categories, while 16 of the 50 top-ranked short-form spots were from the housewares vertical, as well.

“Direct engagement with the consumer is certainly important to the success of housewares products,” says Juan C. Blanco, director of product licensing at Innovation Direct. “In our business model, it is primarily the licensees that we engage with regarding our new products that directly interact with consumers and that already have established distribution channels with major retailers. We are pleased to report that some of the housewares products manufacturers that we have worked with have an impressive portfolio of these types of business relationships with leading retailers in the housewares market such as Bed Bath & Beyond.”

According to the IMS rankings of the top short-form spots airings, the household category came in No. 2 in both 2011 and 2012, claiming 15.3 percent and 19.3 percent, respectively. Additionally, the “kitchen” category claimed 5.7 percent of spot airings broken down by category in 2012, and 6.4 percent in 2011, according to the IMS rankings. In fact, housewares is even close to inching out health and fitness — long the victor in the short-form realm — to become the champion of short-form DRTV advertising.

“In previous years, health and fitness has always been the largest category for new spots, but in 2012, housewares products came out on top,” writes Jennifer Muniz, IMS short-form manager (Response Magazine, December 2012), adding that 2012 was filled with products to make consumers’ lives easier. Some of the most popular housewares products cover a wide variety of the sector, including Hampton Direct’s Stretch Genie and Total Pillow, the Sobakawa Pillow from National Express/McAlister, LifeBrands’ My Pillow, and reusable lint rollers such as The Schticky and the Sticky Buddy.

Further proving the strength of housewares in direct response, infomercial media spending by category for 2012 also showed the household verticals coming in strong, claiming 14.4 percent for 2012 and 12 percent in 2011, according to IMS.

Homeward Bound

Direct response advertising is the perfect avenue for consumer engagement — something key to all industries’ success but especially so for advertisers and brands in the housewares space — marrying the perfect combination of financial-savvy consumers looking to save while feeling a personal connection with a brand, according to experts in the field.

“Consumers are very enthusiastic, and in fact, sometimes emotional, about telling me how happy and grateful they are to be saving money and actually have more disposable income because they are not throwing away their food dollars through food waste,” says Debbie Meyer, long-time marketer of and spokesperson for Debbie Meyer GreenBags.

Meyer says Debbie Meyer GreenBags are the “flagship product of her food-fresh technologies.”

“I created them to tackle one of the most expensive problems in the home: produce wasted because it goes bad too fast, which means money wasted,” Meyer says. “All produce gives off a ripening gas called ethylene gas. This gas accelerates ripening, and rots the produce. My GreenBags are made with a proprietary natural additive, and have been shown, in independent lab testing, to slow this ripening process and substantially extend the life of your fresh produce by creating a beneficial storage environment within the bag. I call it ‘Active Storage’ because my bags are actively working to keep your food fresh longer. They are reusable, and the money savings include: less food waste by extending the life of your produce, fewer trips to the grocery store (saving gas and time), taking advantage of sales, and extra-value bulk purchases.”

Direct response television is a must for Meyer’s campaign and advertising strategies — and is crucial to the brand and marketer’s success, according to Meyer. A mix of all direct platforms is especially important to connect with as many consumers in as many ways — in the way they want to be reached, Meyer adds.

“TV is the primary platform. However, we are now utilizing social media through Facebook, and I am launching my blog, called Debbie Meyer Moments, very shortly,” she says. “TV — both branded and DRTV — is a natural platform for my products because the immediate visual impact, but Facebook and other social media allow consumers to connect in their own time and share their own experiences with my products.”

Meyer attributes much of her products’ success to the tools of direct response.

“I have been appearing on shopping channels around the world for the past 14 years and have built a relationship with consumers based on credibility and trust; they purchase my products because they work, they save the consumer money, and make life easier. When a customer can call in and talk directly to me, and the millions of others watching, it is very powerful and engaging,” Meyer says. “It is very satisfying to know they want to make that connection with me, and with other consumers.”

Driving Innovation

Approximately 15 percent of the new products Innovation Direct has licensed during the past few years have fallen into the housewares category, according to Blanco, who added he expects that number to continue to grow as events such as the International Home + Housewares Show grow in popularity, as well.

Innovation Direct’s latest success story in the housewares vertical is the Chop N Serve, Blanco says.

“Chop N Serve is a kitchen accessory that originated from our roster and that is the subject of an infomercial featuring renowned direct response personality Cathy Mitchell,” he says. “The end product is the result of the joint efforts of infomercial producer Jeff Meltzer and his company, Meltzer Media, and Harvest Direct. The Chop N Serve is slated to be featured in Harvest Direct’s booth at the 2013 International Home + Housewares Show.”

Blanco adds, “We have seen a discernible uptick in consumer confidence and willingness to innovate in our own clientele already this year. We are looking forward to a continued gradual strengthening of the economy and a greater diversity of new products on our roster that will eventually develop into successful products in the consumer marketplace through our licensing efforts.”

Innovation Direct believes the housewares market has much to look forward to in the coming year and beyond. “We are looking toward a resurgence in the household products market as the economy continues to refortify itself. We feel that housewares products at the right price point will gradually once again carve out a solid niche in the average consumer’s budget as various economic conditions that affect spending, such as job stability, continue to improve,” Blanco says. “We are also hopeful that as moderate amounts of disposable income once again become a reality for those households that have undergone lean times in recent years, we will see an increase in household products sold through the direct response distribution channel.”

The near-constant success the housewares industry tends to experience within the world of direct response does not mean marketers won’t have their challenges in 2013, Blanco notes.

“The biggest challenge to the housewares market will be to bring substantial amounts of manufacturing back to the U.S. at rates that are competitive and realistic,” he says. “We know that the issue of retail price points is more sensitive than perhaps at any other time, due to the economic conditions for the average consumer during the past several years, so the key will be to be able to fabricate a high quality product at a price that will still make it feasible for sales to occur consistently throughout a product’s life cycle in the marketplace. We think that advertisers can help in this regard by emphasizing ‘Made In The USA’ products in their campaigns.”

Meyer says real-life experience helps her overcome market challenges and connect best with her customers through direct response channels.

“I actually don’t look at, or for, trends, per se. I have been solving everyday household problems through my own experience as a homemaker, and I believe that there will always be a market for tangible, economical, easy-to-use solutions to the household dilemmas we face everyday. My credo has always been ‘innovation with ease.’ I solve problems without creating new ones,” she says. “The challenges would probably be the same ones faced each year: come up with new, innovative products that the consumer needs and wants, not just more of the same in a different color.” ■

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