Consumer Reports Magazine Scrutinizes the Infomercial Pitch

by Theresa on January 19, 2010 · 0 comments

I thought this was kind of funny... I saw this on the news the other night. Consumer Reports Magazine has labeled infomercials as the quote "Rodney Dangerfields of advertising". You know...that psychological thrill ride that dramatizes every little problem in our life. Then those sneaky infomercials offer that AMAAAZING product with all its thrilling benefits at that special low price and they always get you with that bonus offer. Wonder why you want to run and grab the phone? It all comes down to neuroscience! Here's eight tips you can use before reaching for the phone to order.

Infomercials are carefully scripted in order to pump up the dopamine levels in your brain, says Martin Lindstrom, an advertising expert. After the ride "dopamine levels drop in 5 or 6 minutes. That's why infomercials ask you to buy in the next 3 minutes."

Key Points to Remember When Watching Infomercials

  1. Pause for 10 minutes before buying - By that time your impulse-shopping dopamine levels should have returned to normal.
  2. Slow down the spellbinders - Watch the infomercial on YouTube instead of on TV. You'll be more logical and less emotional if you can slow down or stop the infomercial and really see the demo.
  3. Ask yourself if you would I buy this with cash - Forty percent of consumers say no, Lindstrom says, because credit cards candy-coat the fact that you're spending real money.
  4. Consider other solutions - For an example, Consumer Reports tested the oh so amazing, Grease Bullet which is for removing cookware residue. It did work reasonably well with the recommended half hour soak. But soaking the same dirty pots and pans overnight in dishwasher detergent also produces similar results.
  5. Listen for true "value" clues - When a pitchman cites "a $40 value," then says he'll give you two for one, that means the value is only $20 and probably less.
  6. Calculate the real price - I see this happening quite often. Sometimes sellers make more money off shipping and handling than they do off the product itself. Be sure to add shipping and handling charges to the price. I see that they do list all the shipping prices on the front of the vendors site now.
  7. Say no to upselling -I'm sure many of you have experienced this. Those "operators standing by" might pitch additional products, accessories, and refills before you know whether the product even works.
  8. Avoid shipping and handling fees - Infomercials are now a foot in the door to retail stores. Wait until the product you're interested in turns up with an "As seen on TV" sticker in CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, or other mass merchandiser, usually for the same price but with no shipping charge.

I think I watch  TV way to much but I had to see this segment on Marketplace a show for Canadian Consumer. Here's some interesting things they had to say about Direct Buy.

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