QVC, Inc. is a television and Internet retailer with 1,150 products on offer each week. Merchandise categories include fashion, beauty, home furnishings, electronics, and toys and gifts. It is one of the largest multimedia retailers in the world, with net sales of $7.4 billion in 2007.
QVC (Quality, Value, Convenience) was founded in 1986 by Joseph Segel. A graduate of the Wharton Business School, Segel is also noted for founding the Franklin Mint and for serving on the United Nations General Assembly under Henry Kissinger. Inspired by the Home Shopping Network, he raised $20 million in capital and entered a two-year contract to sell products for Sears. On November 24, 1986, he launched QVC television, broadcast in over 7 million homes. Segel’s concept for QVC was based on the idea of informing the viewer about a product, rather than pressing a customer to buy. To this day, QVC programming is characterized by lengthy descriptions of the products presented, usually accompanied by demonstrations of function, rather than the lightning-fast timeframe of a traditional commercial. While traditional commercials rely on the impulsiveness of the customer, QVC strives to sell the product based on merit and informed choice. Celebrity endorsements and personal testimonials are also common sales methods, and they too provide an opportunity for in-depth coverage of the product.
In 1996, QVC launched an Internet retailer, iQVC, which in 2001 became www.qvc.com. Internet sales in 2007 totaled over $1 billion, and sales continue to increase as www.qvc.com receives over 5 million visitors each month in the United States alone. QVC’s international footprint is also large, with international broadcasting centers in Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Its television programming reaches 160 million homes worldwide, and to date it boasts over 50 million customers. To further enhance its television programming, in April 2008 QVC launched QVCHD, tapping into the ever-growing market of high definition television viewers.
Of the 1,150 products on offer each week, over 250 are brand new and exclusive to the QVC customer. Hundreds of brands sell through QVC, and many count a large portion of their sales through QVC. Brand leaders include philosophy, Dell, and Bare Escentuals. It has launched numerous cosmetics lines throughout its history, including the record-breaking debut of celebrity makeup artist Bobbi Brown in 2007, in which her products completely sold out in 45 minutes. To accommodate a diversified market, QVC’s television programming is divided into various different shows catering to different products. Some, such as the QVC Fashion Channel, are devoted to specific products, like fashion, accessories, and beauty products. Others, like the QVC Morning Show, combine shopping with news and weather in collaboration with USA Today.
Throughout its history, QVC has placed a high value on philanthropy and made a commitment to giving back. Its employees and customers have raised millions of dollars for various charities, including the American Red Cross and the National Women’s Cancer Research Alliance.