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Not Sold In Stores, Really?

The Oldest Infomercial Advertising Gimmick

Not sold in stores is an advertising gimmick designed to get you to make an impulse buy. The strategy works like this:

  1. You see a product for sale.
  2. You hear that it is ‘not sold in stores.’
  3. You are likely to conclude that since you can’t buy it in stores, you’ll have to buy it on TV.
  4. This claim is likely to increase anxiety that if you do not buy now, you may not have another opportunity (since stores do not carry the product).
  5. When you have a heightened sense of anxiety, they will introduce a ‘call to action’ to buy now.

Direct response advertisers love to include any cues or language that increase impulsiveness. They will say whatever necessary to get you to buy ‘right now.’ The ‘not sold in stores’ claim is a claim that consistently boosts sales.

Why Do I See ‘Not Sold In Stores’ Products at Wal-Mart?

While it is an advertising gimmick, the majority of infomercials will never make it to stores. Only popular infomercials make it to stores. Popular infomercials have extra demand — and stores want to take advantage of this demand. Retail stores offer deals too good for the infomercial product creator to refuse. Once a deal is made, the product ends up in stores. Generally, the ‘not sold in stores’ claim is correct at filming — and in most cases — the time at which the infomercial first airs. However, the very popular infomercials gain important brand recognition. Once an infomercial has brand appeal, stores like to include that merchandise in their inventory–because there is hard evidence the product will sell. (Retail stores do not want to waste valuable retail space unless a product is a proven sales winner). In fact, very few of the infomercials ever produce make it to stores. Only the very popular infomercials ever reach store shelves.

Universally Disliked

Consumers notice that when they go to Wal-Mart of Dollar General, they see products they thought were ‘not sold in stores.’  There is even a Facebook group for people dislike when ‘not sold in stores’ is used in a misleading way. It’s titled: “Are you tired of seeing great stuff on T.V. that says “NOT sold in stores” then u see it in Wal-Mart or Dollar General? WELL SO AM I!!!”
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