Saturday, November 25, 2006

Week 15 - Changing The Purchase Rules Whilst Contributing to Society

You may be familiar with Dyson vacuum cleaners. James Dyson first brought the Dual Cyclone Vacuum Cleaner to market in 1992 after his technology had been ignored by the almost the entire electrical goods community around the world.

What was the decision criteria for a vacuum prior to the Dyson being launched? Features? Power? Power was probably the big one as we often see the manufacturers upping the number of “watts” posted across the packaging. Now each time one of the major competitors unveils more power in their machines, the others simply follow suit. Adding extra power could certainly not be patent protected and the consumer simply remained fixated on the idea that more watts must be better. Price probably came in second place on the decision criteria list.

What is the new decision criteria for a vacuum cleaner?

Power still gets a mention, but questions on “style (amazingly), suction performance and air filtration” have moved Dyson’s business to the top of the pile. Dyson products cannot be compared with the 1700 watt model sitting next to it, nor can they be compared on price. In fact forget price. Dyson vacuum cleaners can be 7 times more expensive than their competition, but they have what the market now perceives as the best solution to their problem and are prepared to pay for it!

The Dyson story demonstrates that marketing is not about playing with words or adding trivial services to our core business to trick consumers. Price driven retailers told Dyson that he stood little chance of sales success – Dyson are now the market leader!

It is important that your marketing programs are consistent and the quality as good as it can be, but it is just as important that you believe in what you are doing and today more than ever, how it fits into and helps society.

In her book, Fences and Windows, Naomi Klein discusses those big multi-national companies who, with the help of a PR agency, decide that they “want to be your friend”. She describes those businesses which spend so much time and money trying to convince consumers that they really care about them while at the same time, behaving in a manner anything but! To use Klein’s words, do you have a “communications problem” or a “reality problem?” Innovation, service and marketing are not about spin, they are about a genuine commitment to turning your business into a productive part of society.

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