Consumer Reports Challenges Quality of Infomercial Products

Infomercial Products Take One on the Chin (New York Times)

With the holiday gift-giving season coming to an end, many who received an infomercial product may soon be questioning the quality of the gift they received.  At least that is what Consumer Reports thinks.  The product testing publication is not painting a very good picture of products sold through television infomercials (a.k.a., direct response promotions).  The publication tested 15 products and only one, PedEgg (used for removing dead skin and calluses from the bottom of users’ feet), proved to be worth the money.

While product performance ratings are interesting, the most intriguing part of the story is the discussion of the psychological factors affecting consumers’ purchase decision-making for infomercial products.  For instance, the story discusses reasons consumers are motivated to make infomercial purchases including methods marketers use to encourage customers to make such purchases  (e.g., “But Wait There is More!”).

In the article, Mr. Blyskal quotes Martin Lindstrom, the author of the book “Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy,” who says that infomercials “take viewers on a psychological roller-coaster ride.” That ride, Mr. Blyskal writes, “starts with dramatizations of a problem you didn’t know you had, followed by the incredible solution, then a series of ever more amazing product benefits, bonuses, and giveaways, all leading to the final thrilling plunge of an unbelievably low price.”

Given the relatively low selling price of many of these products, do most consumers really expect a high-quality product experience or do they view these as mostly short-term, nearly disposal products?

Image by Robert Banh

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