Home shopping networks and infomercials have been the butt of jokes for years, known primarily for low-budget production values and disposable impulse-buy products. However, with annual sales now topping $350 billion and well-known brands  increasingly embracing the marketing model, the direct-response marketing industry is having the last laugh.

The industry has matured into one that provides innovative products with a proven channel to consumers, and Wisconsin-based Norman Direct is one of the leading names in the field. Executive Vice President Brian Wargula credits the company’s success first and foremost to the high-quality products it helps develop and bring to market, but there are more than a few key advantages that give it an edge in the industry.

Read more: Norman Direct

Big-box retailers can be much more convenient for shoppers with their massive breadth of offerings, and their large buying capacity can help reduce the prices of their goods. But even with those big-box benefits, many consumers enjoy and even prefer shopping at smaller independents, primarily for the dedicated and consistent customer service, as well as their more unique product portfolio.

But when so many consumers are concerned about cost above all, it can be difficult for independent retailers to remain competitive. That’s why MEGA Group USA has developed its comprehensive suite of services – to ensure the success of its members by helping them increase profits.

Read more: MEGA Group USA

No matter how much the world changed around him, Jim Winey, founder of Magnepan, knew that there would always be a market for his company. Winey created the Magneplanar loudspeaker as an alternative to electrostatic loudspeakers, and the company has manufactured Magneplanar stereo and home theater speakers for the past 44 years.

Marketing Manager Wendell Diller says the invention is a “kissing cousin” to full-range electrostatic speakers and takes a purist approach when it comes to transmitting sound. The company aspires to attain the Holy Grail of loudspeaker design and the audience for its products is definitely a niche market, he says. Yet, its speakers are among the most affordable in their category.

Read more: Magnepan Inc.

Inmar started more than three decades ago when its founders saw they could improve the way couponing was handled and processed, saving retailers and manufacturers money. Since that time, Inmar has branched out into other spaces and handled $38 billion in commercial transactions.

“Whenever you use a coupon, get a prescription filled or engage in a product return, chances are that Inmar platforms are somewhere in there, handling decisions and money flows and sometimes physical goods,” CEO David Mounts says.

Read more: Inmar

The first rule to succeed in retail is to make a great product. The second rule is to make sure people see that product. After all, what’s the use of having a great product, if no one sees and subsequently buys it? Family owned Magid Glove & Safety has mastered the art of both.

The Chicago-based company was founded in 1946 by Sam Magid, his son-in-law Abe Cohen, and Abe’s brother David Cohen as a manufacturer and supplier of leather work gloves to the Midwest’s steel industry. Today, Magid Glove & Safety is a leading manufacturer, importer, distributor and direct supplier of hand protection, protective clothing, first aid and personal protective equipment for the industrial market.

Read more: Magid Glove & Safety

Some firms might be afraid to allow their workers to make major decisions, but not Little Lady Foods. Instead, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Peter Cokinos says, the company trusts its associates to make the right decisions.

“Our style and management philosophy is not to create a lot of bureaucracy,” he explains. “Our strategic focus on the customer allows the organization to make decisions always with their best interest in mind.“

Read more: Little Lady Foods

Variety and versatility are the hallmarks of the products KLN Family Brands manufactures. These include Barrel O’ Fun snack foods, Kenny's Candy, Tuffy's Pet Foods and the newest, NutHeads Chocolate Factory, which was established last year.

“Not only do we have many different branded opportunities that are excellent products and we can put excellent programs together to take care of retailers’ needs, [but] if they’re looking for a store brand, we are willing to have that conversation,” declares Shane Kangas, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Kenny’s Candy.

Read more: KLN Family Brands

“Not only do we have many different branded opportunities that are excellent products and we can put excellent programs together to take care of retailers’ needs, [but] if they’re looking for a store brand, we are willing to have that conversation,” declares Shane Kangas, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Kenny’s Candy.

“A lot of manufacturers don’t want to private-label,” he points out. “We’re prone to having that conversation. It’s allowed us to do a lot of business with customers across the country. Maybe our brands don’t resonate with them, but they have a strong store following.” KLN can also provide store brands for its retail clients; in fact, Kangas estimates up to 60 percent of the company’s production is private-label.

Read more: KLN Family Brands

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