Survey Shows Germans Leery of Home Shopping TV

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A survey conducted in the wake of the March debut of Germany's third shopping channel found that two-thirds of all Germans have a negative impression of buying products from the tube.

EMNID, one of Germany's most prestigious research and polling organizations, queried a representative sample of 1,008 people for the magazine TV Movie, which runs a regular feature called "TV Facts."

Respondents were first asked whether they considered teleshopping a true alternative to retail buying. Only 3 percent said they did, and another 6 percent were inclined to agree "somewhat."

In contrast, 22 percent said they tended not to see it as an alternative, while 68 percent said it was no alternative whatsoever.

Asked whether they would buy products from a shopping channel, 3 percent said they would and 9 percent said they might. The rest were negative.

A final question asked about product quality. Two percent said quality was high, and another 27 percent thought it was okay. Only 8 percent thought the quality was bad, while the rest said quality was "somewhat" bad.

The magazine headlined the story "Teleshop Teleflop?" However, editor Gerhard Vos explained that once percentages were translated into people, the industry had a solid core of potential and actual teleshoppers it could reach.

"Germany has 80 million people," Vos said, "and 3 percent is 2.4 million. Add the 'somewhat' 6 percent, and you have a pool of almost 7 million who might be prepared to buy from one of the channels."

Until RTL -- Germany's largest private TV network covering the country -- entered the scene in March, QVC and H.O.T., in which the Home Shopping Network has a substantial stake, had the field to themselves. H.O.T. is already profitable, and QVC is headed toward breakeven.

RTL is betting on its brand and the distinctive, more upmarket quality of its products to help it reach breakeven within a couple of years.

Still, the survey suggests that the shopping channels have much work to do before they persuade most of the population that they are viable shopping outlets.

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