TV infomercials can sell everything from hair pieces to knives, so the big question is, why has it taken so long for them to move online? Ball home canning products produced five online infomercial/flash sale events last year, and it said it will double live online sales events in 2013.
Jarden Home Brands, a 20-year-old company that holds the license to sell Ball Canning Products in the US, used the Your Brandlive online video platform for flash sales events that combine live video with buy-now ecommerce functions.
Chris Carlisle, senior director of marketing for Jarden Home Brands, says the company's research showed that first person word-of-mouth demonstrated the highest recall and purchase influence of all communication tactics. But the company needed a more efficient way to use its brand advocates to reach larger numbers of consumers more often.
A lot of the old-school kitchen tradition wasn't being passed down, the company found, and consumers associated canning with hours of work and dicey results.
"Confidence is built in groups; it's created when you do things with friends," says Chris Carlisle, vice president of marketing for Jarden Home Brands. "If they can hear somebody talking about it, they are far more likely to internalize that confidence. We were looking for a cost-effective way to create that first-person communication at a more scalable level."
Ball first did a Your Brandlive event for its Facebook followers, following it with a product demo with sister company FoodSaver. Bigger events followed: Can It Forward Day in July and a Cyber Monday sales event.
While the major goals for the events were brand messaging and confidence-building, Carlisle says that ecommerce is an important factor. The company reconfigured its online store, and while conversion rates have improved steadily over the past year, conversion significantly improved during Your Brandlive events.
The company promotes the online events through Facebook and its email list, much of which is acquired by signups at farmers' markets. "We get a lot of pass-along from our friends," Carlisle says.
Marmot (still another Jarden company), Woot.com, Levi's and Nordica also have used Your Brandlive. The platform combines live video, which can be used to demonstrate and hype products, with the ability for customers to ask questions and make comments. Consumers click on a web link to access the retailer's branded web page and participate in the flash sale. The interface allows for easy tweeting, as well.
Your Brandlive can be integrated into the company's website, and events also can be hosted on the Facebook page. It supports social sharing, moderation, PowerPoint slides and custom modules. Event hosts can monitor viewer comments and questions via an app for desktop, phone or tablet.
Retailers can continue to generate revenue following the actual sale by posting video of the recorded and archived events.
The service is sold via monthly subscription packages, ranging from $2,400 to $6,000 per year. Customers can select from very basic levels of integration with content management systems to a deeper level of integration with existing websites via APIs.
Following a year of beta customer testing, Your Brandlive announced its public launch today, along with $200,000 in seed funding.
Your Brandlive was conceived in 2011 as a way for companies to provide demos and training for sales staff, according to chief executive Fritz Brumder, with Nordica using the platform to introduce its new line of skis to retailers. Now, with 25 paying customers, Brumder is positioning the service as a way for retailers to have a 24-hour ecommerce presence staffed with live people.
"We have now identified that consumers like the experience, so we are now transitioning from an event focus to a much larger opportunity to create a live video digital retail store," he says.
Two all-day events in January with Etsy demonstrated how that might work. Each day, ten Etsy sellers signed up to host an hour each. According to Brumder, 20 percent of viewers made purchase during the event; 90 percent said they would be interested in being notified of more Your Brandlive events; and 100 percent said they'd recommend the events to others.
Most events are casually produced, with hosts standing in front of a stationary camera and rudimentary lighting. The low-tech aesthetic seems to appeal to consumers trained by YouTube. In fact, one Your Brandlive customer that had a slickly produced event did not move as much product, according to Brumder. He says, "consumers are looking for just good-enough video; they don't want to be distracted by the video itself."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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