Are We Being “Out-Smarted” By QVC?

The Atlantic has an interesting article on the “Genius of QVC.” Some excerpts …

A QVC host receives six months of training, and when you watch a broadcast close up, you can understand why. QVC hosts are not just preternaturally peppy people who can talk about anything—although they are that. They must master the details of dozens of products, and talk about them while monitoring a split screen that shows both the current shot and the next one. They must deal with a steady stream of spokespeople and customer call-ins. Oh, and they have to convince you that you want to buy a product you can’t touch or see up close. …

… The model is less a sales pitch than a coffee klatch where friends trade tips on hot new products. “They tell you over and over,” the spokesperson said, “you’re having a conversation with the host.”

So, apparently, are many of the viewers—at least in their heads. As one young woman said about her grandmother, whom she was accompanying on the tour, “She talks about them like they’re her friends.” Her grandmother also buys half a dozen items a week. QVC is expert at creating what consumer psychologists call “parasocial relationships”—bonds that tickle our subconscious in many of the ways that real friendships do.

So much of what QVC does is basic retail: Its salespeople have extensive product knowledge, the ability to forge a connection with customers, plus a “story” about what they’re selling.  And yet, we often hear that salespeople in our industry don’t have those things.

But if bricks-and-mortar jewelry retailing is to survive, salespeople must learn to forge real connections with consumers – and do it better than a faraway stranger on TV.

JCK News Director