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Guest Opinion: Shopping Channels and DRTV Are Not the Same

1 Aug, 2008 By: Mark Young Response

We all know that the chances of a successful DRTV product selling well on a shopping channel are good. After all, the keys to both of these communication channels are similar: great demonstrations; unique, never-before-seen qualities; and an attractive offer. But what about products that did not hit the needed sales to be successful on DRTV? Can they make it on shopping channels?

Mark Young
Mark Young

Many times, the answer is yes. I can tell you of many products that did not prove successful on DRTV but became tremendous successes on shopping channels. Shopping channels have a very different business model than a typical DRTV campaign. Here are some concepts to remember when considering home shopping as an avenue for your product:

› The more you tell, the more you sell. Shopping channels use seven- to eight-minute segments to discuss and demonstrate the product, while a typical short-form spot is only one to two minutes at best. That extra time matters: most sales made at shopping channels are in the final moments, not the first two.

› Brand loyalty. Over the years, the shopping networks have developed a loyal following. In fact, more than half of their shoppers buy 50 or more items per year. Their customers know and trust them. They have developed a reputation for providing quality goods to their shoppers. Their shoppers also understand that if they are unhappy, they will get their money back.

› Controlled media costs. We all know that the increasing cost of media is making DRTV more challenging. Shopping channels have the luxury of owning the network, therefore they do not fall victim to increasing media costs or availability challenges.

› Superior pricing model. In DRTV, we've long looked for the magical five-to-one pricing model — though nowadays, it is more like seven-to-one. The shopping channels work on a 45-percent to 60-percent model, depending on the category, giving them much better pricing — and the product a better chance at profitability.

› Personal recommendations. Each network has developed its own on-air talent, people that are considered trusted friends to many of the viewers. When a host gets excited about a product, so does the viewer. Shopping channels also take on-air calls from people who have already bought and love a product. It is as if the viewer is listening in on a neighborhood conversation.

› Massive Web traffic. Web sites like those of QVC and HSN are amongst the most-visited and best-converting sites in the nation. Every product that is on the air is available via those sites.

Do You Have What It Takes?

Do your homework — visit the sites of the TV shopping channels to look for other items in your category. Do they currently sell in your category? If not, that may be a sign of a mismatch. Are you price competitive with other items in the class?

Do you offer something unique or solve a problem that the current product offerings do not address? The basics of good TV marketing still apply: is your product truly unique, or is it a "me too" item? Shopping networks are seeking items that their shoppers cannot find at major retailers.

Does your product appeal to a wide audience? For QVC and HSN, the first three quarters of the year are aimed at women that are self-buying, with the last quarter being holiday gift-giving. Make sure that your product fits this demographic group.

Does your product have a dramatic live demonstration? The real power of TV shopping is the credibility that comes from seeing someone do an amazing demonstration right before the viewers' eyes. Make sure that, in addition to the live demo, you have compelling lifestyle B-roll video to augment the presentation.

When you do meet with a buyer at the network, know your product, category and competition. Be prepared to enthusiastically demonstrate how your product will bring value to their customers and, ultimately, the network.

Mark Young is chairman of Detroit-based Western Creative Inc., a full service and DR advertising agency. He can be reached at (313) 937-1000 or via E-mail at

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