TV channels like ME-TV, Antenna TV and a few others make a lot of money showing reruns. They mostly show episodes from TV series that haven’t aired a first-run episode in many decades. Obviously Americans love reruns. At least some reruns.
What about the TV Shopping Channels that show the same few products over and over again? The industry was built of new, innovative and sometimes unusual or quirky products. Over the decades, some of those products have become proven best sellers, so the channels, most notably QVC, have opted to give them the majority of their airtime.
I’ve previously written about Narrow Branding in my blog “The Brand is the Thing.” https://stevebryantblog.com/2014/10/01/the-brand-is-the-thing/ In fact, that blog received the most views of any blog I’ve written. Thousands of people checked it out within the first few days it was published. It’s obviously a very hot topic for fans of TV Shopping.
If a product is selling, they keep selling it again and again until they burn it out. While it is a successful strategy in the short term, it will most likely be the downfall of any channel that uses it as their primary marketing plan.
In the early days of QVC, we discovered that if a product sold out people were more likely to buy it in the future, especially when we promoted the fact that it had sold out. Customers figured they had missed out on something really special and didn’t want to be left out of the fun. The concept was dubbed “the power promo.”
Promotional spots using phrases like “this product sold out the last time…” soon filled the air. The concept worked very well for many years. People didn’t realize that even though an item sold out, it would return in a few weeks.
After several years, the power promo was gradually replaced by the narrow branding concept. Popular products, especially those with a national brand, began to be repeated, especially on weekends. While the basic TV Shopping demographic is “female, over 40,” the weekend audience for shopping channels is more diverse. High end electronics and expensive kitchen items are sold quite often on Saturday and Sunday.
It’s pretty common in big corporations for people to maintain the status quo. No high level executive wants to make changes, especially if those changes could cause a drop in revenue. The spirit of innovation is gone, replaced by a corporate complacency that adheres to the old axiom, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
While the narrow branding concept makes money, recent sales figures indicate that the strategy is running out of gas. Apparently there is nothing in the pipeline to replace it. Again, even though a new sales strategy could be the answer, no one wants their name associated with a change that might fail.
During the time I worked for QVC, their first guiding principle was “A Pioneering Spirit.” It seems that idea is long gone.
Amazon and the rest of the shopping sites on the Internet have created some fierce competition for the TV Shopping Channels. I rarely buy from TV shopping unless it’s a product I can’t find for less on Amazon or another reputable website.
The live TV Shopping show has become an expensive liability. Add to that the fact that QVC and HSN are mostly owned by the same company and you have a recipe for dramatic change. I believe that in the next coupe of years, the 2 companies will merge once they find a way to get around the antitrust laws. A merger would cut their expenses substantially and allow them to maximize their audience.
The live shopping shows are an unnecessary expense. The TV contracts, personnel and other related costs would be eliminated by switching to interactive online presentations. Want a new TV? Just click on the link that fits your criteria and a shopping host will take you through the features, advantages and benefits of the different sets in your price range.
Today it is believed that the live TV shows drive people to the Internet. Soon that won’t be necessary. Americans are becoming more and more computer savvy and will regularly access the net without any encouragement.
The end of an era? I see it as the beginning of a new one.
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