Taking to the airwaves and shelves

Backed by marketing muscle, the As Seen on TV category can be profitable for grocers.

Suppliers in the As Seen on TV category have long said that stocking their products should be a no-brainer for the nation’s supermarket chains. After all, they note, the advertising is there, the sales are there and the profits are there. What else would a retailer want?

Now, these same suppliers are making a big push to show grocery retailers that the As Seen on TV category produces strong sales and profits if merchandised correctly. “The beautiful thing about this category is that every item is highly advertised and highly impulsive and they quickly become the top-selling item in such categories as housewares, pet care and foot care,” says Ron Boger, executive vice president for Wayne, N.J.-based Idea Village Products Corp. “We feel that these products bring the retailer a great return on investment due to the nature of the products.”

Are supermarkets going to buy into this trend? Historically, the grocery channel has been slower to add many of these items to their product mix than other mass merchandisers. Drugstores, for example, have eagerly added As Seen on TV items to their assortments as far back as the late 1980s.

Now, however, more supermarket chains are making room for the items, especially as suppliers add more interesting products and support them with better in-store promotions and displays. “Typically, supermarkets have worked on longer lead times and did not understand how to weave in the faster launches of As Seen on TV items,” says Boger. “Now, they are allocating space and better managing the section.”

Here is a review of what some companies in the As Seen on TV category are offering in coming months:

This year has seen a shift into high gear for New York-based Emson. The company began the year with the rollout of its partnership with TV pitchman Vince Offer, who is best known for his commercials for the ShamWow, the superabsorbent towel, and the Slap Chop food chopper. Offer is now appearing in commercials for the Schticky, Emson’s reusable lint roller, and will endorse other Emson products down the road, says Emson president Eddie Mishan. Five million sets of the Schticky were sold through the mid-March, he adds.

In January, Emson began its rollout of the Bell & Howell Micro Plus amplifier for the ear. This product, which resembles a cellphone ear piece, amplifies the sound from a television without disturbing others in the room. It is an offshoot of the Silver Sonic, an Emson product that has been selling at retail for the past five years.

Naturally, Emson has been active on the infomercial front as well. It is currently running 30-minute infomercials for a new version of the Sharper Image SuperWave Oven, which combines convection, halogen and infrared-heat cooking technologies. With the SuperWave, “you can cook a 17-pound turkey in one-third the time of a conventional oven,” Mishan says. The new model includes digital push-button technology for fish, beef, poultry or pizza, has self-cleaning technology and comes in black, red, white or blue.
In the personal-care field, Emson is the exclusive distributor for the InStyler Rotating Iron.

“This has been a game changer because it’s the only patented rotating iron of its kind,” Mishan says, adding that the InStyler has registered more than seven million units in sales worldwide, a success that has led to the line’s expansion from one to four SKUs. “We have seen this grow to just about every product category at retail over the past 10 years. It’s been growing and resonating because infomercials educate the consumer on what these products actually do.”

As Seen on TV has also provided some education to retailers. “In its infancy, certain retailers didn’t recognize that this category was so strong until consumers came and asked for the products,” Mishan says. “Now, most retailers ask for TV advertising to increase the sales in their categories.”

Mishan adds that As Seen on TV products have benefited retailers from the dot.com angle. “Consumers are so aware of these products today that they are running to buy them via the Internet and their mobile devices,” he notes. “This is also helping retailers to recognize that their dot.com business is expanding.”

More launches are on the way this year. In the second quarter, Emson will debut a campaign for the Big Boss Torpedo Blender, a patented product, in a two-minute TV spot. The Big Boss, which chops, blends, grinds and juices, features two juicing screens that can be interchanged for fine or medium juice pulp. Mishan says the Big Boss should reach retail shelves in the fourth quarter. Additional Big Boss products are also planned for later this year and for 2013.

Now celebrating 29 years in business, Telebrands is one of the leaders in the As Seen On TV category. In fact, the As Seen on TV logo was created by, A.J. Khubani, founder and CEO of the Fairfield, N.J.-based company. Two of the company’s biggest categories for growth opportunity are kitchen and pet.

“It has everything to do with the recession,” Khubani says. “People are spending more time at home and cooking at home and pets are sources of entertainment,” he says.
Telebrands’ OrGreenic eco-friendly ceramic-coated cookware, for example, which hit retail in December, “continues to break records,” Khubani says. “It’s the fastest growing cookware brand in America.”

Other items for the kitchen include the Edge of Glory knife sharpener, which has dual-hardened ceramic teeth and a suction base to stick to any surface for ease of use. It also works on all types of knives, even serrated blades.

Bake Pop allows the home chef to create bite-sized cake pops at home, while Slice-O-Matic has a specially engineered design to take the effort out of slicing carrots, potatoes and other tough veggies and fruit, making it ideal for people with arthritis or joint pain—or anyone who wants to save time and effort prepping meals, he adds.

Khubani says one of his most recent product surprises is the Lint Lizard, which attaches to a standard vacuum hose so it can be used to unclog a dryer hose. “It’s been at retail for one month and is one of the best selling items,” he says, with 40 % sell through at one retailer.
Insta Bulb is a battery-operated light bulb shaped light that can be used anywhere light is needed, with no need of an electrician. There are no wires, and the “bulb” is cool to the touch and shatterproof, as well as backed by a 10-year warranty.

Allstar Products Group
Since its inception in 1999, Hawthorne, N.Y.-based Allstar Products Group has offered products in a number of categories in the direct response television arena, including the Topsy Turvy tomato planter, Pasta Pro cookware and Debbie Meyer GreenBags for fruits and vegetables.

“Over the years, Allstar Products Group has introduced a stream of new products that have helped to revolutionize the consumer experience and this year is no different,” says Scott Boilen, the company’s CEO. Product roll-outs this year are in the home and garden, health and beauty/clothing accessories, electronics and portable accessories and home and mending solutions categories.

Boilen called electronics and portable accessories “an exciting category for us as technology is always advancing,” and this year will include EZ Eyes keyboard and the GoJo hands-free adjustable headset for all types of cellphones.

In home and mending solutions, the Roto Punch and Zipper Fixer are “both great gadgets that every household will be glad they have,” he says. In home and garden, the company has added the Magic Mesh hands-free screen door and the Snap 2.0 gardening hose connector, as well as the Sift & Toss mesh litter liners for cats.

The company will also build on its popular Snuggie blanket brand—“a sell-out for the past four holiday seasons,” Boilen says—with a new line of styles and fabrics this fall.

“AllStar has a proven model for incubating new brands and attracting and building a true mass market audience,” says Boilen. “Every year our merchandising team reviews thousands of new and exciting product pitches and works to bring the next best solution items to the marketplace.”

Idea Village Products Corp.
Whether they are in the As Seen On TV category or in-line, beauty and grooming items “are always a primary business,” says Robin Bonnema, vice president-sales at Wayne, N.J.-based Idea Village Products Corp. For this company, items in this category include its , which “are leaders in their category,” she says and include the Finishing Touch for women and MicroTouch MAX trimmer for men. The diamond edition of the FinishingTouch and the MicroTouch MAX now come in colors, she adds. And its BikiniTouch was brought back this year after a Shape magazine survey said that more than 80 % of women between the ages of 25 to 49 are trimming the bikini area regularly, not just seasonally, Bonnema says.

Also in the beauty category is the Pedi Spin, the newest automated callous remover. It includes a filing and a finishing head and has an auto-brake to help prevent applying too much pressure to a given area, Bonnema notes.

The company also has high expectations for Stompeez, the juvenile slippers in animal shapes that have winking eyes, opening mouths and other features. “Stompeez will be the biggest hit of the fourth quarter,” says Rishad Khubani, national accounts manager. The Perky Pink Puppy, the Growling Dragon and the Unusual Unicorn slipper designs have such features as ears that pop up, a mouth that opens and eyes that open, respectively. They will launch late in the summer, he adds. Its MusicBullet speaker is “one of the biggest items so far in 2012,” Khubani adds.

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