The Lure of the Infomercial

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Have you ever been up at night, flipping through channels, and been bombarded by the infomercials?  The Magic Bullet, for example, is a little mini blender.  Yet if you invest the time to watch the full infomercial, you will discover that the Magic Bullet is perfect for all of your kitchen tasks.  It can blend up ingredients for a personal sized smoothie, an omelet, and muffins (never mind that the blueberry muffins actually come out blue after making their way through the Magic Bullet).  You can also use the Magic Bullet for grinding coffee, chopping onions and garlic, the list goes on.

The advertisement features a pleasant man and woman surrounded by their friends.  The group could easily be away for a weekend at a lakeside cottage.  Everyone is relaxed and delighted to watch all the tasks that can be completed with the Magic Bullet.  If you, the viewer, are not careful, you may begin to subconsciously marvel at the Magic Bullet until you decide you need one too.

Ah, the lure of the infomercial.  You probably have a coffee grinder, a blender, and a food processor in your cupboard already.  You have all of the equipment that you need to do the same things the Magic Bullet can do, yet you begin to think how nice it would be to have a Magic Bullet.  And it takes up so little space to do all of those jobs your other small appliances do.  Plus, if you act now, you can receive the blender attachment and the extractor kit that turns the bullet into a juicer.  But call within the next 15 minutes and you can get another Magic Bullet for free!  Just pay shipping and handling.

What is it about the infomercial that can propel you to the phone to order, or at the very least pique your interest in the product?  If you didn’t know you needed such a product before the infomercial, why do you suddenly have interest and a desire to buy the product after the infomercial?

The Advertising Techniques

According to the Media Awareness Network, a common strategy for advertisers is to build excitement.  Indeed, if you watch the Magic Bullet infomercial, with each demonstration of an additional function of  the Magic Bullet, the hosts get more excited as does the audience of “friends” watching.

infomercial sale

Who can resist the lure of the infomercial?

Likewise, Psychology Today explains that advertisers strive to surround their products with items viewers already find pleasing.  By doing this repeatedly in the advertisement, viewers experience “affective conditioning” and begin to feel good about the product also.  Take a closer look at the Magic Bullet infomercial—the hosts are relaxed and happy as are their “friends”.  They kitchen is pleasing as are all of the fruits and vegetables and the food they prepare.  Because we can all relate to an enjoyable scene like this, we transfer positive feelings for the situation onto the Magic Bullet.

In addition to excitement and affective conditioning, infomercials successfully try to convince viewers that the item in question is a good deal.  The Magic Bullet promises that it can do all of the things mentioned above, but if that is not enough, you also get a blender and extractor add on for free!  Now, you just pay $99 for a $400 value.  And, to make it more reasonable, you can spread out your payment — three easy payments of just $33 each.

Finally, to close the sale, infomercials rely on limited time only sales.  The Magic Bullet promises to send you another Magic Bullet (with blender and extractor attachments) for free if you act within the next 15 minutes.  If a viewer is not sure whether they should order or not, this may push them into a decision.  After all, receiving another Magic Bullet for free extends the value from a $400 product for $99 to a $800 product for $99.

While I am cynical of most infomercials, even I have fallen prey to them.  While my husband always wanted a Magic Bullet, we did resist.  However, I couldn’t resist the Ped Egg that promised to make my rough heels smooth and summer ready.  I won’t tell you if it worked or not.

If you still have doubts about the power of the infomercial, don’t forget the Snuggi crazy two Christmas’ ago.  Indeed, there is a science behind advertising, and infomercials are exceptionally good at using excitement, affective conditioning, urgency and value to prompt people to buy their products.

Have you ever fell for the lure of the infomercial? Leave your story in the comments.

Published or updated May 30, 2013.

Comments

  1. I have never bought anything from an infomercial, and very few of them do I ebven find remotely interesting. I did like the Shamwow commercials, mostly because they Shamwow guy made such a characature of himself, almost like a cartoon guy coming to life. And that was about as close as I ever came to buying an Infomercial product (but after reading the Consumer reports review of Shamwow, we didn’t buy any).

  2. I can’t help but wonder how the conversion rates are for infomercials vs regular commercials.

  3. You are so very right about the hosts in the infomercials. They act like they know you and what you need. Great site, very well put together and easy to navigate through! Brad ~~

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