Shocking News: Infomercial Products Are Crap

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Consumer Reports takes a close look at the Snuggie and all sorts of things that slice and dice and somehow convince TV viewers that they need them.

The results of product testing, according to the February 2010 issue story, is that it’s almost never a good idea to “Buy This Now!”

But you knew that right? So how do people get sucked into making these silly purchases in the first place? From CR:

The secret lies in neuroscience. Infomercials are carefully scripted to pump up dopamine levels in your brain, says Martin Lindstrom, an advertising expert and author of “Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy,” which details how ads affected 2,000 research subjects.

“Infomercials take viewers on a psychological roller-coaster ride,” Lindstrom says. The fun starts with dramatizations of a problem you didn’t know you had, followed by the incredible solution, then a series of ever more amazing product benefits, bonuses, and giveaways, all leading to the final thrilling plunge of an unbelievably low price. After the ride, Lindstrom says, “dopamine levels drop in 5 or 6 minutes. That’s why infomercials ask you to buy in the next 3 minutes.”

High dopamine levels in the brain? That also explains that it’s no coincidence that a lot of the people buying this stuff are high.

The story lists a few very sensible steps to take before making an infomercial purchase you’ll regret. I like this one especially:

Ask, “Would I buy this with cash?”
Forty percent of consumers say no, Lindstrom says, because credit cards candy-coat the fact that you’re spending real money.