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Teleshopping 'not a prestige business' - says Spiegel

29 January 2013

In-depth articles about the teleshopping business in the German press appear to be like buses. You wait a while for one to come along and then two appear together. 

Tagesspiegel recently looked at the rosy growth prospects for the European teleshopping market and analysed the employment opportunities available. Now it's the turn of influential weekly magazine Der Spiegel to turn its attention to the direct response television market.

The piece is interesting with a quick guide for the uninitiated about how the industry works, the products that are typically on offer, the range of people who work behind the scenes and the typical commercial structure of the providers, the fact that many shopping channels are media companies and distribution businesses all wrapped into one.

Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of teleshopping is the role of the on-screen presenters. It's easy to put them down as 'bimbos' or 'models' - though Spiegel does neither - but they're about as far from the cliché of the blonde airhead presenter as it's possible to be.

Remaining calm but exuding excitement, remembering the key selling points and, above all, keeping the sales patter going while all the while the studio director is passing instructions along through an ear piece takes concentration and skill.

As presentations are usually live and the call centre can keep track of orders as they come in, presenters will be told second-by-second which products are selling and why - they'll be told to amend their sales patter accordingly.

All this takes a lot of skill. But for those who aspire to work in front of the camera, these jobs are few and far between, Spiegel warns.

Instead, there's a veritable army of people behind the scenes - producers, designers, directors, traders, dealers, buyers, distribution and logistics people and so on.

It may appear exciting but, Spiegel declares, if you're looking for a glamorous job, this isn't it.

"If you're after prestige, you should stop reading the article," says Spiegel.

In Europe you'll be selling such products as wrinkle cream, porcelain dolls, fitness equipment, home and houseware products and so on. In the Far East, it's very different. There, you might well be selling expensive watches and other luxury brands, given that teleshopping has up-market connotations. It would be interesting to hear what the German press makes of these stark differences in approach between European and Far Eastern consumers. But that, as they say, will have to be the subject of another article - and there's no telling when that might arrive.

You can find the Spiegel article here.



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