George Forman Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine Infomercial

As Seen On TV: The Business Behind The Products

Last night, I watched a fascinating CNBC show about “as seen on TV” product that are sold primarily through infomercials. I have never bought anything from an infomercial, but apparently a lot of people have. Those TV products have made a lot of people a lot of money.

People Buy This Stuff

Have you ever seen a Snuggy? The George Forman Grill? Ginsu knives? The ShamWow? The Clapper? A Chia Pet? All of these products started as infomercial products to be sold to the masses.

For only $9.99 plus $5.99 shipping and handling, you can get so many great products delivered to your door. Ten bucks doesn’t sound like that much, but with shipping and handling, that impulse buy can add up quickly. If you are a repeat buyer, like many TV product buyers, you can easily spend hundreds of dollars on unplanned purchases.

They Make a Lot of Money

While Billy Mays is not with us any longer, his products have sold billions of units. You read that right. Not millions, billions! Even with a tight profit margin on many of these products, selling so many of them makes a ton of money.

These days, it is not just TV sales. You can get your ShamWow at a local retailer, online, or on the phone. The sellers used to sell 500,000 units from the commercials. Now they can sell tens of millions through multiple outlets.

The set it and forget rotisserie cooker grossed $1.2 billion dollars! The industry sells $150 billion in products each year.

Do They Work?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a bunch of lawyers, and reviews online, a lot of these products don’t work. One major TV seller paid out $7 million when the lost a lawsuit after their ab belt left people a short of a six pack.

Some of the products work, but many do not. You never know how well it works until it shows up. Thankfully you can check out online reviews these days, but you will always see mixed reviews and it is hard to know who to trust.

Have You Bought Anything on TV?

Did you ever buy an “as seen on TV” product? How did it work? Were you happy with the purchase? Please share your experiences in the comments.

9 thoughts on “As Seen On TV: The Business Behind The Products”

  1. I have bought SO MANY things off the TV, it’s ridiculous. I just love infomercials! Mineral makeup, the perfect brownie pan, the ab belt, the iron gym, George Foreman grill — probably more! I am in recovery but jeez, those things…

      1. HA of course not — but I would buy something off the TV again, just for the thrill of it.

  2. I never bought anything on TV! I think I am too skeptical to ever do it. I need to personally check it out before I will buy. I believe if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. It doesn’t stop the advertiser to be entertaining.

  3. I’ve never bought anything on TV, but I know those that have. You really have to question motivations when you aren’t the one initiating the shopping. Purchases are hardly necessary if you are finding out about them by flipping channels.

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