Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Matrix Effect - Can You Sell A Fan?

The Matrix is a film in which protagonist Neo (Keanu Reeves) sees a reality behind a curtain to which the rest of us are blind.

The film describes a world in which the Matrix is an artificial reality created by sentient machines -rather than marketers- in order to pacify, subdue and make use of the human population as an energy source by growing them and connecting them to the Matrix with cybernetic implants. (Sounds like big company marketers trying to find strategies that cajole and control or grow consumer audiences to try and buy their products with dollars being their energy source.)

The movie contains numerous references to philosophical and religious ideas, the hacker subculture, and homages to Hong Kong action movies, Japanese animation and cyberpunk.

But if you are a big company marketer, at say Microsoft, Nestle, Procter & Gamble or Johnson & Johnson, can you see behind the veil of consumer needs and category attributes that, for all you know, account for all consumer perceptions in your business?

For example, Colgate, Procter & Gamble and other oral care product marketers already know that there are only five category attributes that account for all consumer perceptions in their business. They know that there are only five reasons you brush your teeth: for whitening, cavity prevention, breath freshening, tartar control and gum care. No one at P&G cares which agency has the account, as long as the one they choose talks about any one or any number of those category attributes.

But if you were them, could you sell a fan to a consumer? Category concensus has it that all fans are sold to either cool or comfort people. But what other things can a fan do that might alter the competitive landscape of the category - if you wanted to innovate a breakaway positioning that would sell an incrementally greater number of fans with year round rather than seasonal appeal?

Where would you look for an answer? In alternate ABSTRACT DIMENSIONS promoted by innovation consultant Calle & Company

Fans, with brand names such as Vornado and Blizzard can do many other things. They reduce stress, provide comforting sounds, mask urbannoise, are less clinical and dehumidifying than air conditioners, improve interpersonal relationships and help you party, or relax (need states). Fans facilitate conversation, an exchange of ideas. Fans improve the human condition and don't always have to have some arctic ice imagery, violent weather brand names or tropical breeze positionings. Carrier air conditioners are called Weatherbeaters, but are also antiperspirants and deodorants for the soul, they make you smell sweet and help you put on a sunny disposition. Wouldn't Garrison Keeler of Praire Home Companion be an excellent spokesperson? Oh, there are so many other things a fan could do for just one enlightened marketer choosing to look behind The Matrix Effect.

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