New Dimensions

Shelf Life

The direct-response industry has changed dramatically over the past five years. Direct-response ads were originally used to generate direct sales, and marketers only moved their products to retail during and after their direct-response run. Today, marketers use direct-response TV to supercharge retail sales.

Consider the example of Roto Zip Tool Corp., which has sold its Roto Zip tool (looks like a power drill but acts like a router) for 25 years via building supply stores like Menards and Home Depot. When the company ran an infomercial for three months, retail sales increased more than 50 percent, cites Response magazine. Then there's The Bacon Wave, a microwave-safe bacon cooker by Emson Inc. In its initial TV run, the Bacon Wave sold 250,000 units-then it hit the retail shelves and sold 1.5 million units in just six months. And don't forget The Contour Cloud Pillow, which garnered $18 million during its six-month TV campaign and went on to sell a healthy $6 million more its first year in retail.

Retailers have learned that many people who are reluctant to buy a product off a direct-response ad are more than happy to buy it when they see it on store shelves. Plus, most retail products sell like hot-cakes once they're seen on TV.

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This article was originally published in the April 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: New Dimensions.

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