I recently interviewed Kevin Harrington, a direct response television (DRTV) industry expert. However, I’ve realized that many of my readers may not be familiar with what exactly the DRTV industry is or how their product can benefit from it. The industry is enormous, estimated at 2 trillion dollars worldwide. And it’s grown even larger and prosperous during the economic recession. What is DRTV? Is your product right for it?
DRTV includes any television advertising that asks consumers to respond directly to the company to purchase the product, usually by 800 number or by visiting a website. DRTV commercials contrast with commercials whose sole objective is to increase the visibility of the brand name, like Coke or Pepsi. DRTV advertisements exist in short (usually 60 to 120 seconds) and long (30 minutes) form. The long form is commonly referred to as an infomercial.
Why has DRTV been particularly successful as of late? Because more people than ever are staying home and watching TV.
Who buys DRTV products? The average consumer is female and a homeowner whose family earns a low to middle income. In fact, over 75% of all DRTV buyers are female. In order to appeal to this market, the DRTV industry has a specific set of criteria it applies to all products shown. If your product doesn’t fit the criteria, it is irrelevant how good it may be – it isn’t a good fit for a DRTV commercial. Products sold through DRTV must have mass appeal, solve an everyday problem, and be both unique and easy to demonstrate. After watching a DRTV commercial, the consumer should be able to exclaim, “I see how that works! I want that.” And finally, an ideal DRTV product has to fit a 5:1 cost structure. In short, a product should be able to retail for 5x what it cost to make the product. Price is very important.
The range of products sold in the DRTV industry is large: fitness equipment, housewares, beauty products, health care items, collectibles, lawn and garden accessories, business opportunities, and self employment have all been successfully marketed.
If you believe that your product fits all of these requirements, then I encourage you to explore licensing your idea to a DRTV company. What I like about this industry is that Fortune 500 companies and independent inventors have the same chance of creating the new “it” product: there’s no discrimination. If your product sells well, it could end up on an “As Seen on TV” shelf.
But please, do your homework before contacting any potential licensee. Find testimonials from clients who have worked with the company before. Don’t forget to type in the company’s name online and Google “complaints” and “lawsuits”. Whatever (and how much) turns up should give you an idea of their track record. You should feel comfortable with whomever you’re working with!
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 30 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight,
a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas
and the skills needed to succeed. You can listen to the weekly radio
show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media
outlets find you for news stories.