“Blankets are okay but they can slip and slide, and when you need to reach for something your hands are trapped inside. Now there’s the Snuggie- the blanket that has sleeves!”
The Snuggie presents a simple solution to a problem you didn’t even know you had.
In the fall of 2008, Allstar Products Group, a direct response company based in Westchester, New York, aired the first Snuggie infomercial. It was one of 80 products they advertised that year. "If you told me we could only test 50 products, the Snuggie might not have made the cut," says Scott Boilen, president and CEO.
The Snuggie wasn't a unique product. The Slanket and other similar sleeved blankets had been around for years. “The problem with certain products is they sit in the back of a catalog, they sit on a retail shelf, and nobody knows about them,” says Boilen. “Through the magic of TV and awareness you can build a tremendous thing.”
And bring it to the public they did. The Snuggie commercial quickly went from parody fodder to pop culture phenomenon, appearing on Oprah, Ellen, and TODAY.
The Snuggie also struck "As Seen on TV" gold.
Five years after its first release, the Snuggie has sold over 30 million units and raked in over $500 million, according to Boilen. To put that into perspective -- if the Snuggie were a country it would have the GDP of Samoa.
So how did a jokey product allow Allstar to laugh all the way to the bank?
"Sometimes you need to be a little bit of a joke, you need to stop people as they’re in their viewing habits and say oh, that’s pretty funny," says Boilen. "They’re going to buy it because it’s a blanket with sleeves, they’re going to watch the commercial cause it’s funny.”
The Snuggie spends $34.8 million in advertising each year, according to the Kantar Media unit of WPP. Thomas Haire, editor of Response Magazine (a magazine serving the direct-response community) believes that being able to laugh at the product was what made the Snuggie a success.
“If they got touchy about it and said, 'This is a really strong product and you shouldn’t make fun of it,’ then I think it would have faded away,” Mr. Haire explained to The New York Times in a previous interview. “But they were able to laugh at themselves, and I think the American consumer sensed they were in on the joke, too.”
The Snuggie has revolutionized the As Seen on TV business- it's helped move products from television screens into mass-market retail stores. Wal-Mart (WMT), Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), and Walgreen (WAG) are just a few of the national chains that stock large As Seen on TV sections. In fact, 95% of Allstar’s revenue now comes from physical stores- they actually lose money on direct response ads.
"The velocity that Snuggie moved at retail got us from the back of the store to the front of the store. We’re needle movers for the retailers," says Boilen.
The Snuggie continues to release four new products a year and those products continue to sell out. "Our biggest problem was how could we make enough of that product fast enough. We go to China, we contract out as many factories as we can and we were sometimes making hundreds of thousands a day," says Boilen.
From dog beds to tandem Snuggies the company has tried it all and will be releasing a special updated version for their 5th Anniversary (stay tuned to The Daily Ticker for the exclusive announcement!).
Even after half a decade, Boilen still finds himself baffled by the blankets success. "If I knew how the Snuggie became so successful we’d have 15 more products like that. It just struck a chord at the right time."
Watch the video above to get an exclusive look at the Snuggie headquarters and to see The Daily Ticker's Lauren Lyster try one on.
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