Marketers Want Their DRTV

Direct response television (DRTV) is not just late-night infomercials and home shopping, but a specialized form of marketing, designed to elicit an impulse response that results in immediate sales. Effective DRTV will also build brand recognition, and drive sales to other channels.

Research from the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) estimates that 63 percent of Americans watch some form of DRTV advertising, translating to 136.2 million viewers – impressive as the numbers may be, they represent an 11 percent decrease since the ERA’s last study in 1996.

The decline could likely be attributed to the downward trend in TV viewership, as the Internet continues to increase eyeballs. Elissa Matulis Myers, CEO of ERA, notes: “DRTV programming is in the mainstream of all types of TV programming and not immune to the same things that are happening to TV in general. TV viewership in general is down attributed to the increasing fragmentation of television choices and the widespread adoption of the Internet.”

Supporting the claim is a 2003 joint study by DoubleClick and Nielsen//NetRatings that indicates a shift in advertising spending from television to the Internet, and research from the 2002 UCLA Internet Report, created by the Center for Communication Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, which showed a definite decrease in television watching among the online population.

Despite decreased TV viewership, the Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) expects an increase in DRTV, predicting the medium to grow at a rate of 6.4 percent annually through 2007.

The ERA’s study captured the profile of the DRTV viewer, finding that they are more likely to be employed, slightly more affluent, and on average four years younger than Americans who don’t watch DRTV. Interestingly, the report finds that DRTV viewers are more likely to trust infomercials than Congress, used car salesmen and corporate executives.

More than one-quarter (28.6 percent) of Americans have reportedly purchased a product advertised via an infomercial, most often by calling a toll-free telephone number to order. Furthermore, more than one-third of viewers indicate that they have purchased a product that they were first exposed to via DRTV.

Response Magazine found product demonstration as the primary reason (33 percent) for DRTV purchases, followed by price at 16 percent. Exercise products were among the top DRTV purchases (43 percent), followed by diet/health/weight merchandise (33 percent), videos (20 percent), and beauty/cosmetics (18 percent).


Profile of DRTV Viewers and Buyers
Demographic Info Viewers Non-Viewers Buyers
Gender Female: 53.2% Male: 55.4% Female: 51.7%
Mean Age 41.2 45.2 45.9
Ethnicity Caucasian: 75.8% Caucasian: 76.4% Caucasian: 79.3%
Employment Full-time: 52.7% Not employed: 47.3% Full-time: 58.6%
Marital Status Married: 49.3% Married: 52.8% Married: 60.3%
Children Yes: 40.1% Yes: 38.5% Yes: 43.1%
Residence Suburban: 31.7% Small town: 31.5% Suburban: 31.0%
Mean Household Income $56,000 $49,000 $55,000
Source: ERA


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