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Media Zone: Why Retailers Love DRTV Products

1 Nov, 2011 By: Timothy R. Hawthorne Response

Retail’s love affair with DRTV products continues to grow as stores stock their shelves with items that are heavily supported by short-form and long-form commercials.

Retail’s love affair with DRTV products continues to grow as stores stock their shelves with items that are heavily supported by short-form aTimothy Hawthornend long-form commercials.

As retailers nationwide struggle to rise above the economic downturn, a quick glance at the shelves of your local Wal-Mart, Walgreens or Bed Bath & Beyond paints a telling picture of what retailers think about DRTV products. The big retail players don’t open up too much publicly about the category, but their actions reveal a true affinity toward products that arrive in their warehouses fully supported by DR campaigns.

Consider the fact that DRTV products once occupied cramped “As Seen On TV” space at the back of the store. Today, they are strategically positioned all over the sales floor. Novelty items like Pillow Pets are piled high on end caps near the store’s entrance; impulse items that are supported by short-form are carefully posed near cashiers; and skincare products with infomercial dollars behind them are fully integrated into cosmetic sections.

“DRTV has always had a significant impact in the creation of both new and additional retail traffic,” says Cathy Miller, president and CEO at You 2 Can Do D.R. LLC, and former manager of direct response at Provo Craft, the maker of the Cricut and Yudu. “Retailers often report noticeable increases in product demand after an infomercial airs in their regions.”

DRTV and RetailThose spikes happen because a high percentage of consumers who see a show on TV learn from it, get their interest piqued and then visit their favorite retail outlets to find out more. “The shows not only catch consumers’ eyes,” Miller adds, “but they also educate potential buyers on the ins and outs of the product before they even set foot in their local Target, Sears and Wal-Mart stores.”

Jim Holcomb, vice president of marketing at Evolution Robotics, maker of the Mint™ automatic floor cleaner, has witnessed significant change in the environment for retail launch of DRTV products during the past 15 years. “When I did my first DR launch (the Broom Vac by Dirt Devil), the buyer cadre at retail treated it with pretty dramatic discontent,” recalls Holcomb. “They were convinced we were trying to ‘go around them,’ get the business for ourselves and just let them have the dregs.”

Since then, DRTV’s success at retail has spoken for itself. Today, Holcomb says, retail buyers ask him questions like: When can we get the products, and in what quantities? “As a group, the retail buying community has embraced the concept,” he explains, “and just wants to know how and when to execute.”

Making DRTV particularly attractive to retailers is the medium’s knack for effectively weeding out the not-so-hot ideas. Put simply, retailers see both short-form and long-form as testing grounds for innovative products that may or may not sell through on their shelves.

Looking ahead, Holcomb expects DRTV to maintain and enhance its position as an important advertising channel for up-and-coming products. Miller concurs, and expects new innovations like shopping applications (used on consumers’ mobile phones and iPads, for example) to play an even more prominent role in the DRTV-retail experience.

“We’re all on the move with busy agendas,” says Miller, “so we’re increasingly turning to the easiest shopping methods. Right now, these options include mobile phones, tablet computers and apps. As marketers, we have to incorporate these new ideas to not only grow the DRTV industry, but also to assist the retail world with its own growth.”

Even with new tech-oriented options rearing their heads, Miller sees traditional TV playing a prominent role in driving consumers to retail stores, retail applications and other buying mechanisms. “One should never discount the power of TV; there are still many consumers who learn about a new product for the first time through DRTV,” says Miller.

About the Author: Timothy R. Hawthorne

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