TV's original home shopping host Bob Circosta helped create the multi-billion-dollar home shopping industry, having pitched the first product ever offered. He joined guest host Connie Willis (info) for the entire program to discuss the early days of home shopping and how it has become a billion-dollar industry over the past 44 years, as well as what he has learned about sales and what motivates people to buy things they see on television. "I'm just a guy who's helping people enhance their lives through various products," Circosta said, adding he is currently focused on wellness products.
According to Circosta, the concept of shopping from home began in 1977 during his news-talk program which was aired on a lowly-rated radio station in Clearwater, Florida. "One day the door of the booth opened up and in walks Buzz... and he was holding in his hands this electric can opener," Circosta recalled, noting one of the station's advertisers had run into money issues and decided to pay their bill with can openers. Circosta was asked to sell the can openers on air so the station could recoup the money it was owed. "We sold 113 electric can openers and that was the beginning of what we all now know as home shopping," he noted.
Circosta continued pitching consumer goods and services on the radio for five more years, then they made the switch to a local cable television station in 1982. The operation was expanded three years later with the first nationwide TV broadcast of the Home Shopping Network (HSN) in 1985. Sales were not initially impressive with only $352 coming in after the initial five-hour broadcast, Circosta revealed. Within 90 days we made a million dollars in a single day, he added. Circosta believes it took a while to develop a relationship with the audience and to familiarize them with ordering from television — a concept that was foreign at the time.
A year later in 1986 QVC entered the fray (and would eventually go on to acquire HSN). There were 28 other companies trying to do the same thing during the 1980s, Circosta reported. He credited the success of HSN to its distribution model. You must be in front of the right people with whatever you are selling in order to be successful, Circosta explained. Many of the other home shopping networks failed due to distribution, he noted.
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