Saving Money Now is Harder for Infomercial Junkies

The flashy infomercial

Money now is sparse and consumers are cutting back. Businesses know this, and in an effort to turn things around, they are using more aggressive tactics to spur people into buying. One age-old trick is putting together a flashy and interesting infomercial. Everyone has seen them – the infomercial is a half-hour TV commercial that exudes the best qualities and features of a product. Advertisers use a “live studio audience” to hype the product, along with an energetic pitchman to sell. He or she espouses the many virtues of the product and tells viewers how much more fulfilling their lives will be if they buy one, or even better, two!

Infomercial products to the test

Consumer Reports magazine did a survey of various infomercial products and questioned buyers about their performance. The “Slap Chop”, a tool used to dice foods, does so unevenly. It isn’t as seamless as it looked on TV. “The PedEgg”, a pedicure device, works, but unlike the TV infomercial, it isn’t a “self-cleaning” tool. Most consumers reported that it “left a mess.” Overall, there were a few high-performing items, like “The Magic Jack”, a voice over internet medium, but for the most part, infomercial items were a disappointment.

What to do about the flashy infomercial

When watching infomercials, there are some tips to avoid buyer’s remorse. Here are some of them, as compiled by Consumer Reports.

Think for ten minutes. Infomercials are high-paced and that’s for good reason. The excitement of the host and audience increases viewers’ dopamine levels. That causes them to buy more readily. It’s that excitement that can be curbed by taking a few minutes to let the frenzy die down. Once it does, an impulse buy is less likely to occur.

Listen for clues. One of the clear clues that an item isn’t worth the price is when suddenly the host of the infomercial drops the price, or if they suddenly throw in a “two for the price of one” special. That means the manufacturer is paying way less for the item and the markup is probably obscene. Money now is a highly coveted asset and consumers have to be able to read between the lines before they make the buy.

Consider the options. Though the infomercial may claim to take care of an everyday problem, Consumer Reports’ writer Joan Santopaulo said, “Consumers should think of how they took care of the problem in the past.” She added, “If a pan of water and soap worked before, why spend more money on something that may not work…it’s the old adage: If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

Add-ons are unnecessary. When consumers call to buy an item, there are operators who will try to add on more features. Whether it is a supplemental item that costs an additional $4.99 or a totally different item that is discounted if a consumer buys, is it really worth it? Consumers should think about the total price they are paying for an item and stick to it.

Think before the buy

Money now is difficult enough to manage without the added stress of infomercial pressure. Although items may sound good for 30 minutes, research is showing that few products maintain their advantages when consumers bring them home. Using forethought and wisdom can save everyone money and free up wasted space on a garage shelf.

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