Each day we see proof of an evolving consumer landscape. From Chanel’s Atelier Beaute providing digital consulting and shopping to Hypebae’s Animal Crossing fashion show, brands are finding new ways to engage directly with consumers and sell their products.
But as we hear more stories about the rise of direct-to-consumer brands and new channels of communication, we were reminded of the original pioneers in the DTC space: the 90s infomercial giants.
From the Thighmaster to Now That’s What I Call Music!, these brands leaned into compelling content and clear calls to action shaping the path forward for brands today. And there’s much we can learn from them.
Below are our top five lessons from past infomercials that we apply in DTC strategies today:
1. Drive desire through storytelling.
While many brands today lead with their benefits, infomercials gained success by highlighting the product’s impact on a real problem. Through creative storytelling, the products turned a disgusting bathroom into a white palace or saved a sinking boat with a single piece of tape.
This exciting, dramatized approach highlighted the product’s impact through visual proof and the visceral reaction of a relatable consumer issue.
2. Prove value through social proof.
In modern marketing, we often think of social proof as user-generated content (UGC) or testimonials. But in the pre-social media world, these brands had to get creative. They used great spokespeople who were brand fanatics and heavily promoted, in real-time, how many units were being purchased.
These techniques grabbed attention and got the audience excited about the product—making it seem as though everyone needed this product in their home, and they would miss out if they didn’t act now.
3. Drive urgency through legitimate scarcity.
Everyone remembers the endless countdowns on infomercials. A real-time record that constantly flashed across your screen and warned you that time was running out for you to get a special offer.
Today’s technology has made it easier than ever to utilize this same approach with real data, letting consumers know when quantities are limited, and driving an urgency to act now, so they don’t miss out.
4. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Infomercial brands knew persuasion was all about repetition, which allowed viewers to join at any point in the commercial and clearly understand how the product worked, why they needed it, and how to buy it.
As we think about the cross-channel experience, we must take a lesson from these brands. We don’t know which channel or message is going to capture our consumers’ attention, and we must ensure that regardless of channel they can always learn the what, why, and how of what we are selling quickly and easily.
5. “But wait, there’s more …”
Every successful infomercial of the 90s continued to sweeten the deal. An additional container, a BOGO offer, free shipping, or a special storage bag. Infomercials knew how to up the ante and make a deal irresistible.
Evaluating your DTC purchase experience for opportunities to offer free samples, a special gift, or free engraving or shipping will help push consumers to hit the “buy now” button so they don’t miss out.
Embracing the right DTC strategy
As consumer behavior evolves, it’s becoming clear how DTC strategies can be used by all brands to engage their customers. Leveraging your first-party customer data to dive into those behaviors and determine in what moments people purchase your products—and what messages drive action—will help you gain a new understanding of how to grow your business.
This year has brought on some unexpected marketing challenges, and we’re all beginning to see where digital connections can bring us together in a socially distant world. Take advantage of this time to try new channels and tactics that we previously thought only belong to the infomercial brands of the past and the pure-place DTC brands of today.
Full-service strategic planning
We put the customer at the core of everything we do to build digital experiences across channels for brands. Trellis, our strategic planning framework, provides a set of essential activities that help brands clearly understand the right problem to solve and align with the realities of the customer experience.
Contact us to talk about what challenges you’re facing and how we can help.