The Characteristics of Infomercials

by Charlotte Kirkwood; Updated September 26, 2017

Infomercials populate late-night television with promises of commonplace problem-solvers in clever, can’t-live-without-it ways, brought to viewers by charismatic salesmen and memorable catch phrases. A commercial disguised as an informative program, infomercials have a handful of specific characteristics, all aimed at engaging potential customers at home and making a profit.

Sales Pitch

First and foremost, infomercials are advertisements designed to sell products. Infomercials typically begin with presenting a common problem, then offer an in-depth reason why the product is the perfect solution to that problem. In this way, infomercials are both a presentation of information and a sales pitch, though the informative aspect exists to further serve the sales pitch.

Format

Infomercials are a specific form of broadcast marketing, which means that they are made for broadcast on television. Infomercials run for at least half an hour, which is the smallest block of time stations sell. The infomercial consists of three to four segments divided by commercials, each segment ending with a call-to-action, which is a call to purchase.

High-Pressure

While infomercials begin with an informative presentation on the product, they quickly move into the hard sell. In the hard sell, infomercials make use of customer testimonials to urge viewers to purchase products. Often, infomercials put a time constraint on potential customers, urging them to call before they miss out, due to aspects like dwindling stock. Infomercials frequently make use of the “But wait… there’s more” pitch, wherein added services or products are included in the sale price.

At Home vs. In Store

Products sold through infomercials traditionally are available through the infomercial for a period of 6 to 12 months, after which successful infomercial products make the transition from mail-order to in-store. However, some products stick with successful infomercial campaigns and never make the in-store transition.

About the Author

A professional writer since 2008, Charlotte Kirkwood’s articles have appeared on Pop Syndicate, Ani.me, CollectionDX and other websites. She enjoys writing about travel, films, literature, beauty, homemaking, pop culture and anime. Kirkwood's previous jobs include makeup artist and book seller. She studied English and art history at Southwest State University.