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  • Ameann DeJohn

Wow Them From Hello: A Blueprint for Long Term Success on Home Shopping

Updated: Apr 11

Is it magic? Luck? Timing? Why do some brands seem to launch at the top of home shopping ranks while others just sink? The truth is a successful launch for any brand in any retail channel requires a fair amount of all the above, but more importantly, solid strategy, compelling branding and the grit to grind through the process, which can be long. For brands specifically looking to launch via home shopping channels, the challenges can be particularly unique.  Home shopping buyers and audiences have unique needs and wants, and are seeking brands and products that tick a lot of boxes, and have a lot to offer a televised selling environment. To help navigate the strategy (and magic!) needed to not just survive vetting with home shopping buyers and executives, but be ready to wow consumers and build a loyal following, industry insiders Ameann Dejohn and Dyani Halpern share their best in class strategies on how to nail your home shopping approach from hello.


Understand the process.

Even for an established brand, meeting with buyers and home shopping executives can be intimidating. What should a brand expect? What will buyers ask them or want to discuss? Says Dyani Halpern of Monday Mood Collective, “Brands should expect home shopping buyers to talk to them at length and in great detail about their “why”. Above and beyond almost all other information you want to share, your ‘why’ is critical. Why your product over another (offering same ingredients and benefits), what makes it unique and more compelling to consumers than the competition?” Brands should also be ready to talk about the founder story, how it was created, and who will be going on-air to sell, as well as supporting assets to drive interest. From a business strategy side of things, buyers will likely also bring up exclusivity opportunities, pricing strategies, and distribution conversations.


After meeting with buyers, most brands want to know what to expect in terms of timing of getting on-air. How long does it take? “Typically, home shopping channels usually plan their launches out 6 months to a year, although that can vary, depending on specific brand circumstances, especially with current inventory constraints impacting multiple industries,” notes Dyani. However, that doesn’t mean this wait can’t be useful or productive. Before getting slotted for TV time, often home shopping buyers will ask brands to make minor changes to their branding or messaging, sometimes even packaging during this time, which they should absolutely do. Also, if they haven’t already, brands should use this time to conduct consumer trials or before/after photography. Brands often overlook the importance of consumer data and studies, and before-and-after images when they should be allocating the budget and time to secure these critical assets from the start.


Back To Basics

As mentioned, before approaching home shopping, it’s vital to ensure your brand basics are in order. Says Dyani, “Everyone loves a good story, and beauty buyers are no different. It is vital brands have an authentic brand story ready to present during their pitch—why the brand was created and in what ways purchasing and continually using it will better a consumer’s life. Remember, the viewer can’t pick your product up from a shelf; they are watching so they can hear that story from you. Brag about what makes your brand unique—they want to know!”  Equally as important is identifying your on-air spokesperson (or on-air “guest”). The spokesperson is the heart and soul of selling on a home shopping channel and they can make or break your success. Buyers prefer this person be the founder but if the founder isn’t comfortable on-air, have some vetted back-ups that also have an authentic connection to the brand for the buyers to consider. Like your story, you need to make sure this person can connect authentically with the brand and the audience.


You will also want to have identified your hero sku, the one product you want leading the charge for your brand that has the most compelling ingredients and technology; that solves the most pressing consumer skin issues, and hopefully, has already gained editorial attention and acclaim. And while the hero sku will ideally help garner initial interest in your brand, you must also have a robust assortment of supporting products ready to help the buyer envision various offer configurations and feel confident about the brand’s longevity. Finally, it should go without saying but inventory must be formulated, packaged, and ready to sell before your meeting so quantities can be decided between you and the buyer. And don’t forget consumer and clinical claims. More and more, it’s crucial for beauty products to have this kind of supporting data on their products, as well as before and after photos, to use on-air.


Claims To Fame

Let’s take a minute to discuss clinical and consumer testing and claims. Today, this type of brand validation and proof is critical. Consumers want products that they trust will deliver real results and having clinical testing claims and photographic proof helps create this trust quickly. As we all know, the beauty marketplace is exceptionally crowded. Buyers know consumers want data and proof before they purchase, and are really looking for products to put on-air that have these claims to support them. Although ideally all this testing is done before approaching home shopping, if your brand hasn’t made this investment yet, they still can (and should).  Ameann DeJohn, founder and CEO of Media Lab Science notes that the timing of testing is variable. “The timeline will depend on the lab you use and their availability, plus what “check-ins” you want. Meaning, are you only looking for an instant result, or do you want to test your product’s efficacy over a few weeks or months as well. You will also need to factor in time for the final report and then legal review for everything to be approved to say and show on-air. I would budget at least 6-8 months before launch to get all testing completed. And definitely keep in mind that the legal review of claims is stringent so it’s best to always partner with a validated and trusted clinical lab that understands the process and has experience with home shopping channels to provide guidance on what claims will be accepted or not.”


In terms of importance, clinicals or consumer testing claims, Dyani points out both are important, but buyers definitely like to see the clinicals. “Networks are starting to get stricter on testing claims and really want to see that you have solid clinical results. That being said, consumer studies are also a great, cost effective way to get additional data points for use on-air.”


Every Picture Tells A Story

These days, social media has made sharing photos easier than ever so brands may wonder: do before/after photos proving product efficacy matter on home shopping anymore—or to home shopping consumers? The emphatic answer is yes! Before-and-after photos still matter. But unlike photos found on Instagram, these photos should not be altered or filtered in any way, and must allow consumers to truly ‘see’ what using the product will do for their skin. The most impactful before/after photos are those which visibly show the issue being addressed (acne, fine lines, discoloration, etc.) and then show the solution. You also want to ensure the photo is easy to view and understand, and focused in on the area you want to highlight—not multiple issues. For example, even if your product helps minimize redness, if your primary claim is that it heals active blemishes, your before/after photo needs to show a reduction in blemishes. Save the redness claim for use on packaging or other brand messaging. But above all else, do not alter to edit the photos in any way to make them look more ‘perfect’. Consumers are smart and can tell when photos have been altered. Instead of impressing them, this kind of photo editing actually causes them to lose trust in your product and the claims it is making. As with clinicals, you need to budget time to secure impactful photos. The process will depend on the kind of the before/after you want to show, i.e. instant, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, etc.. From start to finish, on average the process can take anywhere from 2-4 months.


Finally, before undertaking a before/after photo project, Ameann urges brands to have their protocol clearly identified, as well as a clear understanding of what they hope to prove or show in the photos. “Don’t just expect to snap a few pics and have it be over. You need to have an idea of what claims you will want to make about the product, and how the photos will support that claim. Again, working with a skilled vendor and photographer that specializes in before/after photos, particularly on home shopping can help you through the process.”


Wrap It Up

Although primary and secondary packaging is an important part of every brand’s identity, the function of packaging is slightly different on home shopping. In a retail store, consumers can touch, feel, and read the information on an actual box or bottle. On television this obviously isn’t possible but brands can do a few things to make their packaging work on TV and to engage consumers once in their possession. In today’s world, one of the most important features of all packaging is sustainability. How can you ship in the most eco-conscious way and have your products arrive at the consumer’s house intact with no damage? Also, can consumer’s use and dispose of your bottles, jars, and tubes responsibly and easily?  Many retailers are offering recycling programs for beauty containers but that is an extra step on the consumer’s part that is often easier said than done. Being able to toss your box or tube directly into their home recycling bin is the most ideal solution.


Don’t overlook the importance of including fun educational materials with your packaging—pamphlets or postcards. A consumer might have loved watching your brand on-air, but by the time the product is in their mailbox, they can forget important details and you don’t get to send them an email afterwards. So make sure you have in-kit collateral that clearly explains how to use the product, when to use it, etc. Also, offers to connect via social channels can help build engagement and re-purchase.


In Case Of A No

Perhaps the biggest question brands have about getting picked up by home shopping is what to do if their first attempt isn’t successful? Dyani says, “My advice would be to ask for feedback and see if you can improve or change based on that feedback. And don’t take it personally! Buyers see dozens if not hundreds of brands every year and it’s their job to know what their audience and consumers want. Listen to what they say about your brand and if you are able to deliver those changes, great. If not, don’t be afraid to approach a different channel if your first meeting doesn’t pan out. The reality is your product or brand may not be quite right for one channel’s audience, but it may be perfect for another! Plus, you never know what buyers are looking for and time can be on a brand’s side, especially if a brand approaches home shopping too soon or needs time to capture more sales and/or marketing in other retail outlets. So stay in touch, grow those areas, and reach out again.”


Ameann Dejohn and Dyani Halpern

Based in Los Angeles, Media Lab Science is a one of a kind clinical testing lab at the forefront of executing comprehensive clinical trials, as well as before and after photography and consumer perception videos in order to help brands create rock solid claims that matter to today’s consumer. Our team of acclaimed industry leaders understands how to design a testing protocol that tackles the challenges of today’s online environment to deliver data brands can use immediately.

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