We might like to pretend we’re above the infomercial, but recent research shows as many as 1 out of 3 Americans have pulled their credit cards out during a pitch. The track record of success spans nearly every aspect of business: beauty, personal care, business opportunities, collectables, weight loss products and house wares.
The appeal for businesses is huge. A traditional infomercial can fly through production at one-tenth the cost of a traditional advertising campaign. One advertising expert tells Consumer Reports the 2 to 28-minute spots are scripted in a way to boost your dopamine levels with over-the-top dramatizations of a problem you never thought you had. Follow that up with an ingenious solution and the hook is buried.
And the traditional “Buy Now” pitch? Experts say the dopamine levels in your brain start to drop off about five minutes after you finish watching. That’s why the pitchmen will throw in a bonus product or double the order if you act “in the next three minutes!”
We’re also sucked in by personalities like Vince Shlomi, who pounds away on the Slap-Chop or soaks up spills with the ShamWow. It’s the big business of infomercials and “as seen on TV” advertisers who buy up hundreds of hours of airtime in hopes of pitching a product that will sell big and pull in millions.
There’s a lot on the line for infomercial product pushers. They spend millions for a late-night or midday spot. If the stuff doesn’t move, the infomercial gets killed and the product itself banished to the world of obscurity.
So which infomercials provide enough dazzle to keep the phones ringing and the credit card numbers rolling in? It looks like larger-than-life personalities and even bigger promises nab the most customers. Here are the top 10 bestselling and popular infomercial products:
10. Foodsaver Food Vacuum Packaging Machine
For $129 dollars, you too can suck the air out of your food. The makers of this product say removing excess air from your foodstuffs will increase the shelf life fivefold by cutting out oxidation, which leads to freezer burn, dehydration and other off flavors. The folks at Foodsaver say this vacuum sealer will save you more than $2,000 dollars by preserving food you would have otherwise tossed.
You’ll need some thick skin to watch this infomercial, but there’s something about watching people basically drag a cheese grater across their feet that works for this product. The PedEgg removes calluses and dead skin to make your feet feel healthy with “NO MESS!” This product is one of the infomercial gems that actually live up to the hype. Consumer Reports put this one up against a pumice stone and the PedEgg came out victorious.
This strange hybrid of robe and blanket has become widely popular thanks to a barrage of infomercials and a super catchy jingle. The fleece contraption is now sold in hundreds of colors and designs and you can even order one for your dog, too. Be warned however, this wizardy-looking garb will leave enough lint in your dryer to fill a grocery bag. You should also avoid the temptation to make public appearances in your Snuggie.
“Stop having boring tuna, stop having a boring life, ” suggests Vince Shlomi. Despite the dismal reports of food getting stuck in the Slap-Chop, Shlomi’s high-energy infomercial spots have earned plenty of cash in what has become one of the most well known late-night infomercials. Vince says you’ll have a great day slapping your troubles away, although it’s probably a lot more fun watching him slap and chop his way to the bank.
6. Ionic Breeze Air Purifier
This product by the Sharper Image promises to rid your home of allergens by using “electrostatic precipitation” to eliminate dust, pollen and pet dander. These machines can set you back anywhere from $99 to $199 dollars.
5. Carleton Sheets Real Estate Tutorial
Carleton Sheets has been attracting aspiring millionaires since the late 1980s. Now, his Real Estate Tutorial has launched him as one of the prime TV pitchers. In this spot, happy customers give testimonials about the $2,800 dollars they’re pulling in every month thanks to Sheet’s videos. He’s put out a whole collection of material on property flipping and management.
4. Showtime Pro Electric Rotisserie Oven
There’s something about a glistening, spinning piece of poultry that keeps late-night audiences captivated. Ron Popeil, the godfather of modern-day infomercials, hit on another winner with his Showtime Electric Rotisserie. The famed TV pitchman who once filled in his own bald spot with Hair in a Can Spray has appeared on his own infomercial spots for 40 years, but his latest venture in “as seen on TV” cookware is by far his most successful product to date.
Another product made famous by the pitching power of Vince Shlomi, the ShamWow bills itself as a miracle towel easily able to soak up 12 times its own weight. Wine, coffee, pet and soda stains are no match for the ShamWow. If you’re willing to take Vince’s word for it, a set of four will set you back about 20 bucks.
2. Bowflex Home Gym
Another top seller is the Bowflex home gym. These infomercials dangle an almost irresistible carrot: the perfect body. The late night and weekend spots are rife with testimonials from uber-hot people who claim to have gotten ripped in the comfort of their own home in just six weeks. Whether or not the claim holds any weight, Bowflex has become a household name and has raked in plenty of dough.
This anti-acne facial cleanser packs some serious star power in its well-produced infomercials. There are just enough close-ups of stomach-churning acne to gross you out before a clear-faced celebrity preaches the product’s success. Proactive’s parent company spends upward of 15 million dollars a year to nail down celebrity contracts, according to Forbes. That move has made the company millions. Justin Bieber, P. Diddy and Jessica Simpson are just a few of the stars that have appeared in Proactive spots. The success is going viral as well. Proactive’s YouTube page has scored over 1.5 million hits. Turns out star power can trump even the most skilled pitchmen.
By Charles Klein
Charles Klein is a blogger based in the United Kingdom. Charles covers topics related to consumer products and anything that keeps his attention. Charles has written for various large websites in the UK such as the Savoo offers site and many others. Connect with him on his blog at CKSauce.com.