I recently learned that the direct-response television (DRTV) industry spent $6.4 billion on advertising in 2016, according to DRMetrix. Of that, $316 million was short-form advertising for consumer products. Put another way: The “As Seen on TV” brand received more than $300 million in advertising support last year. So it’s worth asking: What are consumer impressions of this brand we all share?
To find out, I put together a simple survey with the help of my colleague Ellen Leikind. Ellen is a consumer-products marketing executive and founder of the women’s empowerment initiative POKERprimaDIVAS. Both Ellen and I are junkies when it comes to this kind of research. When we worked together, we indulged our habit quite a bit.
A few weeks ago, I sent our survey to 134 random people using the tools at SurveyMonkey.com. In just a few hours, we had our results. Of the respondents, 60 percent were women, 58 percent were age 45 or older and household income and geographic location were pretty evenly distributed.
SurveyMonkey also informs me that our results have an 8.6 percent margin of error.
What People Know
To start, Ellen and I wanted to understand what consumers know about the “As Seen on TV” (ASOTV) brand and logo. We asked several questions designed to gauge this. The survey found that:
- 93% are familiar with ASOTV logo
- 72% understand ASOTV refers specifically to DRTV/infomercial products
- 82% don’t know if one company, several companies or no one owns the brand
- 64% believe companies have to license the logo to use it
What People Think
The next section of our survey focused on consumer perceptions of our shared brand. We wanted to know if the ASOTV logo helps or hurts sales, what percentage of people are buying our products and what they think about those products. The survey found that:
- 47% had purchased an ASOTV product in last 10 years
- 64% think ASOTV products are just as good as other products
- 70% are neutral toward the ASOTV logo when making purchase decisions
- “Useful,” “innovative” and “fun” were the most common positive descriptors
- “Cheap,” “gimmicky” and “scam,” were the most common negative descriptor
This is the first time I’ve had a statistic for the percentage of people who buy ASOTV products. Based on purchases in the last decade, it seems that number is around 50 percent. The number goes to 89 percent if you count people who can’t remember but are “pretty sure” they have purchased at least one such item in their lifetime. That is, only 11 percent of people said they “have never and would never” buy one of our products (i.e. are hardcore haters).
Another interesting statistic: Despite “cheap” and “gimmicky” being the most common negative words people associate with our brand, only a third of people think our products are worse than other products, and less than a quarter say the ASOTV logo makes them less likely to buy. In other words, most people are neutral toward our brand and logo, a finding supported by some decade-old phone research Ellen and I once commissioned.
“As Seen on TV” is a strong brand – and yet it doesn’t have the selling power we would expect from such a well-established mark. The survey gives us some clues as to why that it is. While known for bringing new and exciting products to consumers, we aren’t known for leaving them with the kind of customer satisfaction that is required to build brand loyalty.
This state of affairs raises a provocative question: Should someone – perhaps a collective – try to take control of “our” brand? Could they effectively police the brand and prevent companies with low quality standards and unethical selling practices from continuing to damage the brand’s reputation? I’ve asked these questions of industry leaders before, and the consensus was always that it wasn’t a worthy undertaking. The DRMetrix figures and our research would suggest otherwise. As Ellen put it, “Who else in the consumer-products world would spend $300 million on advertising and not be in control of their brand?”
About the Author
Jordan Pine is a consultant specializing in short-form DRTV and the author of The SciMark Report (scimark.blogspot.com), a popular industry blog. His field reports are based on actual conversations with top executives from our industry, many of whom are his clients, partners or vendors.