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Take the stress out of coming up with your next big idea - sell an empty box?

Take the stress out of coming up with your next big idea - sell an empty box?

December 18, 2008

Sometimes we're too smart for our own good.

Admit it, how many meetings and brainstormings have you had in just the last several months about the big product you want to roll out? I can just imagine long hours spent asking, "What does our market need right now? What can we give them that no one else can?"

I've been doing it too! It's natural. We want to come out with the next big thing that will make everyone want to buy.

But I just got a cold dose of reality that I had to share.

As I've been shopping lately, I've noticed something very strange. Rarely did I buy the things I set out to buy.

Although I feel good about what I bought, I never intended to buy them. I'm not alone either.

More than half of all buyers (57%) are impulse buyers, according to Porter Novelli's 2008 Consumer Styles Study. In fact, 34% of buyers are fickle deal seekers. They care about the price but they're not going to spend much time researching their options. And 23% are your classic "want-it-buy-it" consumers who don't see cost as a primary concern. When they see something they like they buy it.

My point? We're spending way too much time trying to justify why someone should make a purchase when most people make their purchasing decision on the spot!

A USB powered toaster? Really?

How else can you explain sales of the Chia Pet or the USB Travel Toaster? The USB Toaster isn't even a real product! It's a gag gift with a nicely designed empty box!

"Don't be tethered to the kitchen," the ad says. "Take your toast...to go! Now you can take a toaster everywhere you take your laptop. Insert a slice of any bread-white, wheat, even rye-and in 7-9 minutes, you have the kind of perfect toast you could only get from a computer. Winner of the 2006 Gold Floppy Disc Award for Best Cooking Peripheral. No. It's not real. But the box is."

It's one of several gag gifts offered online from The Onion. To see it for yourself click here.

When was the last time you built an umbrella?

No one plans to buy gag gifts like a USB Toaster or other fake gadgets such as a 28-piece "professional" whisk set or a a build-your-own-umbrella kit. Others The Onion sell are:

  • iFeast, a combined pet-feeding and iPod-docking station. "Produces an earsplitting beep when the water dish is empty!"
  • The Kleen-Stride personal debris removal system -- small push brooms that attach to the front of the wearer's shoes.
  • The Peaceful Progression Smoke Alarm, featuring sounds of the rain forest. "Awake to your next fire calm and refreshed!"

Here's the real kicker. The empty boxes for these fake gifts sell for $7.99 and they've sold 50,000 of them!

Here's what your customers really need now ...

We don't always need to come out with the next big thing. Especially, right now. People are looking for things that make them laugh and feel good.

Even if it's just buying something in a favorite color. In the bleak economy, many retailers are boosting sales just by giving their products a new color. People form a personal connection to a product in their favorite color and it may be just the thing they need to give themselves a psychological lift, according to a December 8 article in USA Today by John Wagoner.

Purple Motorola cell phones are selling just as well as those in black now. Sales of mixers in red are now beating those in white at Hamilton Beach. Sales of toasters, washing machines and clothes dryers are all up because they're being offered in colors other than white.

Do people need a new oven in pumpkin? Do they need a cell phone in lime green? Of course not. But if it makes people feel good right now they'll buy it.

What can you offer that will make others smile? How can you repackage what you already have?

What may seem like a small idea right now could be your next big thing!

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,

Jon