What categories will be hot and which will rot in the infomercial world in 2017 and beyond? DRTV or infomercials are a form of advertising that seeks to get an immediate response, be it going to a web site, the phone, schedule an appointment for a consultation or even to retail. They have traditionally accomplished this through video content designed to entertain, educate, inform and inspire.
DRTV, as opposed to brand advertising, wants the customer to take an action, and not just to like them. It is the difference between liking something on Facebook or buying something online.
More and more marketers are seeking accountable and readable results from their advertising dollars. But with all the turmoil going on in the country right now and so much uncertainty, can the genres and categories that have previously worked still perform and are new categories emerging that might show promise? Is it possible to make direct response great again? While consumer confidence is the highest it has been in the past 15 years according to Bloomberg Media and the stock market broke through the 20,000 mark for the first time ever, there is much uncertainty about how things will shake out with the new administration.
While I am not a fortune teller per se, I can offer my own predictions for how the infomercial landscape may shape up based not only against the landscape of political unrest, but also on emerging customer habits and preferences. I recently attended the CES show in Las Vegas where everything tech was celebrated. I believe there will be a huge rise in infomercials around tech products in categories including wearables, hearables, audio assistants, health related products for both treatment and prevention, housewares and any device controlled through apps.
There seems to be an app for everything imaginable. I am waiting for an app that can go to the bathroom for you. And also waiting for an app that will let you vote.
The tech category is a great one for the infomercial world as it needs some explanation, needs some demonstration, and also needs awareness building. And even though tech products are, well, technical, most are driven by emotional triggers to solve a problem or make life better. So in addition to explanation, the tech products need to be humanized by selling the benefits and uniqueness of the products.
A category that I would predict another renaissance for would be the nutritional supplement category. Nutritional supplements were a much bigger category until the past administration’s creation of a much tougher regulatory climate with a litigation happy FTC. While there were some great protections for consumers, others went to far and restricted the ability for a marketer to properly present the attributes of their products within the limitations and guidelines. Obama was known for asserting executive authority on a multitude of actions and regulations. In fact, according to a recent article in the New York Times, “the Obama administration in its first seven years finalized 560 major regulations – those classified by the Congressional Budget office as having particularly significant economic or social impacts. That was nearly 50 percent more than George W. Bush”. Advertising to consumers was one of the areas that became more highly regulated and one of the categories that got hit most was the nutritional supplement category. I would think that mood enhancement products would be particular strong in light of the malaise the country seems to be afflicted with.
The new Trump administration is promising to roll back a large variety of regulations, including those pertaining to advertising. This may be one business silver lining.
Products that are Made In the USA will have another resurgence. While in the recent past, products with this label were considered premium and pricy, consumers, regardless of political party, seem to feel favorable about products made in the USA.
With that said, lower end products manufactured in China may not fare as well as they have. Trump is threatening to place large tariffs on these imports, which will mean the price will rise and without a higher perceived value, my prediction is that this category will drop off quite dramatically.
Cannabis. That’s right. Marijuana. I predict that cannabis related products will start to emerge on the scene. With more and more states legalizing, we will start to see some regional advertising for products designed for this marketplace.
In general, my prediction is that higher price point products and services will dominate the infomercial industry and the $9.95 and $19.95 products will be harder and harder to make work.
The last category that may see a bump in advertising to consumers may be educational and instructional products from insurers or from the government. With mass confusion about health care, people will be scrambling for information no matter how it shakes out.