Infomercials are the bane of every hoarder’s existence, but are dangerous to everyone. They bombard us with images of crap we really don’t need, but somehow seem to convince plenty of us non-hoarders to pay for stuff that immediately goes into storage or out at the garage sale. What sorcery is this? How are otherwise sane and rational people roped into paying for products that, let’s be honest, we all know aren’t going to work? Here are 5 ways infomercials sell us on their literal garbage.
Being an Inspiration
Infomercials, as much as we mock them, secretly inspire us. Their products may not always be what we’re looking for, but that can easily change after the host is done telling you how much cooking you’ll do just by purchasing The Magic Bullet or the Chef Basket, which are actually two products on the more useful side of the spectrum. That doesn’t stop these two items from gathering dust inside the home; purchasing one cooking product to ‘change your life’ and inspire you to cook will typically wind up unused and discarded. Unless you’re truly developing an interest, the Slice-O-Matic isn’t going to make cooking the magical and easy task you always needed in order to enjoy cooking.
Creating a Need
The fastest! Easiest! Surest!
One of the greatest skills a marketer can master may be creating a need in a hard, competitive market where one doesn’t seem to exist. Infomercials are amazing at creating a need within their customers.
You never knew how much you needed a Snuggie, which is just a felt blanket with two arm holes, until the Snuggie came about. And then there’s stuff like the Perfect Meatloaf pan, which is pretty similar to most pans you can buy at the store. The only interesting part of this item is the ‘lifting tray’ to easily scoop out the food, but you absolutely need the knife, recipe guide, and regular old tray that comes along with it.
Then there are things like The EZCracker, which don’t even pretend to be remotely useful or interesting. It cracks eggs for the user. That’s it. If you are a complete idiot or over the age of 90, this is a perfect product for you. Everyone else buying it gets sold on the idea that it’ll make life easier — the American dream. The same goes for Pizza Scissors and the Egg-Cuber. Things that actually make cooking more difficult are sold as quick-fixes and miracle shortcuts.
Lots of Deals
If you’re still on the fence about buying the Pickle Picker (since you’re too incompetent to use a regular fork), don’t worry — they have plenty of deals to convince you. Almost every infomercial flaunts some sort of ‘buy 2 get 1 free’ deal, often including extra products we think we’re getting ‘for free’. Buy the ridiculous Butter Spreader and get two extra ones free. To top it off, you’ll also get a Shamwow and a dead baby seal. But wait! If you call now, the entire order is doubled at no extra charge!** (**except for the price of shipping all the extras, which comes out to almost as much as the original order).
This is not being offered because it’s truly a great deal that some kindhearted person had to share with the world. It’s because the products are cheaply made, probably by slave children in a third world country. These products are designed to break, and made using the cheapest materials possible. Also, it simply doesn’t take $15 to ship a palm-sized piece of plastic.
Empty promises tie into inspiration, creating a need, and giving the consumer some deals, for instance:
– Cooking/camping/eating/living will never be the same again! It will be so much easier and more awesome.
– You are tired of buttering your own corn, aren’t you? You do hate it when the food gets all sloppy? This is what you need to solve that problem. Please don’t start thinking about how difficult it will be to clean a tiny cube filled with butter instead of just washing your plate/hands.
– This is a really great deal, and we promise you won’t find it anywhere else. You’ll only find this deal if you call this number, and only within the next 30 minutes. Make it quick!
– We promise it works.
TV Personalities and Comedy
It may seem silly to think that the weird and wacky varieties of Billy Mays could actually sell anything, but these people are more convincing than we give them credit for.
Celebrity endorsements are probably the hardest hitters; anyone and their dad who liked George Foreman bought his greasy little grill. Throw Chuck Norris into an infomercial — the product could be a perfume to attract rabid wolves and people would be clamoring to purchase it.
Billy Mays and the ShamWow! were also great at selling their product, but in different ways. Housewives everywhere began to recognize and trust the Billy Mays image, while the ShamWow! guy’s success (if any), came from his comical arrest when he beat up a prostitute. This type of comedy, whether it’s from May’s screaming or ShamWow!’s erratic personality, provides us with laughter — which keeps us watching the infomercial.
Not to mention the many people who have most certainly purchased products like the Snuggie or the Dog Snuggie just for how ridiculous and comical it is.