Trade shows are open to any business owner. A business owner is qualified by having a business license essentially and looking the part. You pay an entry fee and enter a huge lot of wholesalers and manufacturers direct.
Many new products on infomercials and eBay come from here. Many products are designed for re-branding as well (known in the industry as "white labeling"). For example, remember the sham WOW?
It wasn't sold at the trade show as a sham-wow, but rather generically as an absorbent shimmy cloth. The Sham WOW guy is just one of many who purchased the material in bulk and possibly even had to cut it to size and add the branding "Sham Wow!" to it. He found an infomercial company and convinced them to make a commercial (or often paid for this service and prayed he'd sell enough to recoup his money back and a profit).
State Fairs And Carnivals, Level 3 Trade shows (retail)
When you go to a state fair and go inside the buildings where the infomercials live, you'll see the Sham Wow and many renditions often (they may offer exclusivity so no other competitor can sell their similar product) of the product. This is a bit like what a trade show floor looks like. The only real difference is that your dealing with a retail seller not the manufacturer or even a wholesaler- they sell them at full price there.
Anyone with a business license and knowledge of when the trade show will hit (a very big one happens often in Las Vegas) can go in there and purchase in low bulk (higher price than high bulk) anything on the floor then can re-brand it or offer it as is at the fair. Many people are starting to do this actually for a living. They start with one product then with profits purchase more PLUS a new product to offer and 3 years later they're hitting up the fair circuit and trade shows all over the world and selling their products.
Many manufacturers will let you re-brand it into your own product so you can sell it uniquely and take your market by storm. They are not often worried about branding but rather coming up with and offering in bulk unique products..
You'd be surprised how many different products that are the same (but generic)- literally ARE the same product re-branded! Regardless of how they advertise it.
White labeling often occurs at big chain stores. This is where they purchase actual Excedrin PM, for example, then slap the "Safeway" or store name on it and sell it as a generic at about half the price of the name brand (even though both are name brand in reality). The manufacturer will often change it up enough so you don't think it's the same side by side and the general public is none the wiser.
What may really surprise you is that stores like the dollar tree or 99 cent store (or equivalent) have the same purchasing power as wal*mart and will go to the manufacture often through trade shows and order super bulk.
The markup on some items is so ridiculous that you wouldn't realize it's only really worth .50 cents! To the left is the dollar tree version. Notice how they used "Wow" but not "Sham".
They've essentially re-branded it to look similar to the sham wow, even putting "as seen on TV"- which most people think means this IS the sham wow SEEN on TV. It's the same product (so they aren't lying really), but repackaged and named. Other than the sham wow guy being possibly upset at their similarities in branding- nobody is being "tricked"- because it's literally the same product- in fact they may have been in line behind sham wow guy purchasing a "spool" of the stuff! Technically the sham wow is bigger and they give you 6-10 of them so you're getting a better deal in "bulk" but who needs "bulk" sham wows?
You can get a few for small spills (contrary to the advertisements, these are NOT good for big spills- I know- I tried to clean one up and it was a nightmare). Even if you purchased 20.00 worth of them from the dollar tree, however, you're getting a better deal at the dollar tree. Why? Because your not paying for advertising and overhead for the "brand name" itself. Your getting the wholesale price (level 3)! I've even seen people purchase things like this at the dollar store then sell them for 3.00 at the flea market/swap meet/whatever you call those "auctions" that have no actual auction *smiles*.
I actually purchased the sham wow at a fair one day on a whim, later I purchased the dollar store version and tested them- they were identical other than color. One was bright/dark yellow, one was light blue.
You may not realize it but MANY products sold on TV for 20.00 end up at the dollar store- especially those that cost 10.00 (then they jack you with the second "free" set just pay processing of 10.00!!!).
The energy shots you get for 4.00 are at the dollar tree and guess what? They are more powerful than the expensive counterpart! Those trigger lighters (for candles) cost 4-5.00 at the grocery store or even Wal*Mart but you can get them at the dollar store too.
I remember wanting those soda can toppers that turn a can into a bottle essentially and keep your carbonation going as it's air tight- and didn't get them. They were at (and still are) the dollar tree 2 weeks later. It was a 20 pack not a 10 pack like on the commercial. I did some reading on the package and realized it even stated the same exact manufacturer! The one you ordered from TV was the same package of 20, they just "marketed" it as 10 + get 10 free and pay some imaginary processing (because why would their be additional processing in the same package?).
I'm pretty insulted by the latest scams in infomercial buying. Half the time your credit card is hijacked even if you cancel a "membership" so you can't trust anything on there, the other half the time they are pretending to give you more but laws stopped them from lying about shipping costing more for the "phantom" free stuff- so they switched gears to tricky marketing that makes you still believe you get something free, but you pay for it in reality- and can't say, oh I don't want the free stuff, so I don't need to pay extra "processing"- they won't let you do it- because there is no way to separate ONE packages contents!
I refuse to purchase anything on TV, why should I only to get swindled and later find out it will, if it's worth it's weight in gold, end up in a retail store? Did you know infomercials are not just another way to sell things- it's a beta test. That makes you a beta tester if you purchase things off TV infomercials! Most things that are truly a good value will become store items. I love that many of the lower value (but still cool stuff at a reasonable price) ends up at the dollar stores!
Buying Wholesale Exercise Equipment