We’ve all found ourselves watching infomercials late at night or on weekend days when nothing else is on. While most are compelling in their own way, some manage to hook viewers more than others — no matter how unnecessary or laughable the product might seem.
From skin care systems to kitchen gadgets to workout routines, some products have spurred millions of people to pull out their credit cards and pick up the phone. Whether you saw the product on an infomercial or you discovered it thanks to a show like “Shark Tank,” these products that were made famous on TV hit big with their audiences.
- $697 million in revenue in 2017
Remember Marie Osmond and her 50-pound weight loss? The celebrity spokeswoman not only endorsed the brand but also kept the weight off with NutriSystem. Millions of other people wanting to shed pounds have also used NutriSystem weight management system. The company’s market value is estimated at $1.11 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- $500 million in sales as of 2013
The Snuggie is one of the most successful infomercial products, even if the commercials did give people a good laugh. The cheesy ads worked to the company’s benefit, though. Snuggie sold over 30 million units as of 2013, just five years after its launch, despite not even being the first product to feature a blanket with sleeves. It did, however, have the best sales tactic, and the revenue to prove it.
George Foreman Grill
- 100 million grills sold as of 2015
George Foreman, two-time world heavyweight boxing champion, got the deal of a lifetime outside of the ring. Although he initially signed on to earn 45% of the profits of this grill in return for the use of his name, by 1998 the grill had sold more than $200 million worth of units, and the maker of the grill opted to buy out their spokesperson instead. Foreman earned $137.5 million for his endorsement, plus an additional $11 million for grill-related TV appearances. “Big George” tried to parlay that success into other products, including a line of frozen meats, but they’ve flopped in comparison.
Showtime Pro Electric Rotisserie Oven
- $1 billion in lifetime sales as of April 2018
It appears that many households really did “set it and forget it,” as more than 2.5 million Showtime Rotisseries were sold, according to Ron Popeil, the infomercial products icon and founder of Ronco Inventions. The rotisserie oven brought in $1 billion in lifetime sales, Popeil told the New York Post. The oven makes easy weekend meals even easier.
Despite big sales figures, the Showtime Rotisserie Oven couldn’t keep Ronco Inventions afloat — the company filed for bankruptcy for the third time in April 2018, the Post reported.
- $700 million in sales as of 2012
When P90X, the “As Seen on TV” workout routine featuring Tony Horton, debuted in 2005, it wasn’t an immediate success. In fact, it took 22 tries to get the infomercial just right. The work was worth it though, as P90X was one of the top 25 most popular infomercials for several years after its launch, according to Infomercial Monitoring Service, a company that gauges the success rate of infomercials. As of 2012, the product had raked in over $700 million in sales.
- $1 billion in sales in 2015
Proactiv has more than 20 million customers worldwide. Since the late 1990s, the skin care kit has had many celebrity spokespeople including Alicia Keys, Jessica Simpson and Julianne Hough, and you can’t have big names without making a lot of dough to pay them. In 2010, the product was paying $13 million to $15 million annually to spokespeople, including Justin Bieber — which no doubt added millions to the popstar’s net worth.
The original creators, Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, launched their own Rodan + Fields skin care line, which had $626.9 million in revenue in 2015. The brand does not rely on infomercials. Rather, the company uses a “social commerce” model, in which independent entrepreneurs use social media to sell products directly to consumers.
- $450 million in sales as of 2013
TV viewers loved the PedEgg, despite the fact that it’s basically a pocket-sized cheese grater for your feet. The PedEgg seemed to fascinate rather than repulse infomercial viewers, who have been impressed with its skin-softening ability. Over 50 million of the devices have been sold since 2007.
- $300 million in revenue per year
If you’ve watched any television at all over the last year or so, then you’ve likely seen an ad for MyPillow, the $40 pillow that claims to adjust to fit you and help you get a better night’s sleep. The company — which has spent over $100 million on infomercials — has sold 30 million pillows as of 2017, according to CNBC.
The Bowflex Workout Machine
- $71.6 million in sales in the fourth quarter of 2017
When it comes to “As Seen on TV” exercise equipment, the Bowflex workout machine is probably the most well-known. You might even be one of the 2.5 million Americans who own a Bowflex home fitness machine. The “no-weights, just resistance” system of cables and straps promises to deliver amazing muscle-building results — and folds up in a cinch. One of the brand’s most popular infomercials featured a 50-year-old grandmother who claimed the machine kept her looking far younger.
The Hair Club for Men
- Sold for $210 million in 2005
The Hair Club for Men aired its first infomercial in 1982, and you might recall the famous tagline: “I’m not just the president of Hair Club for Men, I’m also a client!” The company gave men with thinning hair — or not-so-great combovers — a chance to have a full head of hair again with a transplant. The company has changed hands several times since it launched and expanded its services to women and even children. According to Entrepreneur magazine, the company treats 50,000 clients each year.
- $1.2 billion in sales to date
The Total Gym workout tool was initially used in rehabilitation centers, but its creators realized it had broader uses and introduced the machine to TV audiences. Nearly two decades have gone by since it first began being advertised on infomercials, and it’s now in over 4 million homes. The company has racked up over $1.2 billion in sales.
- $200 million in sales as of April 2018
Suzanne Somers’ ’90s infomercials for the ThighMaster fitness tool were mercilessly spoofed on late-night television, but the “Three’s Company” star is laughing all the way to the bank. The ThighMaster has brought in $200 million in sales over the years, Forbes reported.
First State Quarters of the United States Collector's Map
- $180 million in sales as of 2010
The state quarters map was marketed to coin collectors and noncollectors alike as a way to display the first editions of the state quarters. The map was sold for $29.95, and had brought in $180 million in sales as of 2010, The Seattle Times reported.
- $150 million in sales as of 2010
Dog and cat owners have shelled out millions for Pedi Paws, a device that can be used to gently trim your pet’s nails using a spinning emery wheel. The tool retails for $19.95, and it’s brought in $150 million in sales as of 2010, The Seattle Times reported.
- More than 15 million terracotta planters sold
The iconic commercial jingle “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia” definitely placed this terracotta planter as a cultural sensation in the early ’80s when it first appeared on American television. The planter, which sells for $16 and above, uses chia seeds to sprout plants that resemble hair or greenery on any given planter shape. The Chia Pet has had such a major impact on American culture that The New York Times included it in its time capsule, to be opened in the year 3000, alongside a Purple Heart medal, a can of Spam and a Betty Crocker cookbook, according to Smithsonian.com.
- $150 million in sales as of 2013
The delightfully ’80s infomercial for AmberVision sunglasses promised to improve vision by blocking blue rays, as well as to protect eyes from sun damage by blocking UV rays. The sunglasses were sold for just $10 on TV and were eventually brought to retail stores too. In total, the aviator-style one-size-fits-all shades have reached $150 million in sales as of 2013, ABC reported.
- 14 million units sold from 2012 to mid-2015
NutriBullet caught the eyes of beloved viewers with its entrance infomercial that featured David “Avocado” Wolfe explaining the horsepower of the blender that “extract[s] nutrients” that most juicers could not. The blender has various models that range in prices from $49.88 to $149.99.
- Approximately $33 million in sales as of 2017
Using the bathroom to do number two doesn’t have to be so… hard. At least not with the Squatty Potty. The bathroom stool, or “defecation postural modification device” as it’s known by scientists, is designed to help people position themselves in a natural squat for using the bathroom. The Squatty Potty made its first appearance on “Shark Tank” season six when Lori Greiner decided to invest in the bathroom maven. In 2016, sales hit $19 million and have continued to rise from there, according to CNBC.
- $50 million in sales as of 2017
One of the most successful products from ABC’s “Shark Tank” is a smiling face sponge called the Scrub Daddy. In 2012, when it premiered on season three of “Shark Tank,” business maven Lori Greiner took her chance by offering $200,000 for a 20% stake in the company. The household item became such a hit that it went on to sell over 10 million units. Its special FlexTexture material really allows the product to stand out due to its ability to change textures and functions with different water temperatures.
- $200 million a year as of 2009
OxiClean became a popular household staple when spokesman Billy Mays graced TVs in the early 2000s with infomercials that showed just how much the general public needed a deep-cleaning detergent. From mudslinging stains on pants to ketchup residue on white T-shirts, OxiClean infomercials changed the stain-fighting business.
- Over 10 million devices sold to date
Everyone wants washboard abs, and if there were an easy way to get them, most people would have them. That’s where the Slendertone toning belt comes in. The device promises a nice toned stomach with little effort because of its electronically stimulating pulsing belt that engages abdominal muscles, giving you the stomach you’ve always wished for.
- $40 million in sales as of 2010
The infamous Shake Weight has earned its fair share of media coverage. The vibrating free weight became successful due to its funny and viral infomercial that many associated with its sexual innuendo. The Shake Weight craze became the center of attention for many parodies on GIF websites and television shows like “Saturday Night Live.”
'Sweatin' to the Oldies'
- Richard Simmons has sold approximately 20 million exercise videos, including ‘Sweating’ to the Oldies’
Fitness guru Richard Simmons’ charming personality made him a fitness icon and motivational TV personality in the ’80s. With his hit “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” workout cassette, the trainer (and his short shorts) became a household name. Simmons’ success as a fitness expert and advocate allowed him to release multiple workout videos like “Dance Your Pants Off,” “Party Off The Pounds” and “Platinum Sweat.”
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About the Author
With a broadcast news career that spans more than a decade, Lia Sestric has had the opportunity to cover local and national news for television and radio. The Washington, D.C.-based writer has been freelance writing for a number of years. She frequently writes about higher education, careers, and finance. Along with GOBankingRates, her work has appeared on major sites like Yahoo, The Huffington Post, MSN and many other news outlets.