Thursday, June 19, 2008


Pharmaceutical companies today are developing hundreds if not investigating thousands of new products each year - many of which go OTC. So I began thinking, "How many would ultimately converge on the same positions, just saying the same things about themselves the way their different advertising agencies want to?" Now the agencies like to say, "It's all about the strategy!" lol So just what does it mean to think outside of the box in oral care where there are only five category attributes that account for all consumer perceptions in oral care: whitening, cavity prevention, breath freshening, tartar control and gum care?" I can hear the advertising exec selecting the new advertising agency now! "I don't care what you talk about, just talk about one of those five things." So when it comes to new product development, the same thing happens. Consequently, there is no thinking outside of the box. which is why McKinsey & Company reports that over the last 45 years, despite solid balance sheets and healthy bottom lines CPG execs wonder where their new growth will come from. New technologies still converging on the same positions? Withdrawn FDA approvals?

The same happens in all categories. Show me a laundry detergent or household cleanser that doesn't promise to do the cleansing job better and faster. Show me a shampoo and conditioner that doesn't promise model-perfect hair. Show me an allergy technology that doesn't promise to relieve symptoms better and faster. Show me an orange juice that doesn't promise to taste most like the orange.

Yes. Commoditizations besets every new product launch like the plague. Hastening copy cats and capping each new technology's rapid growth phase because they do not insultate their businesses by discovering and communicating the proprietary Special User Effect no other rival can own.

Tell me about other categories in which "thinking outside of the box" beats or sucumbs to commoditiztion - but be careful before you dispute me - you can't be in "a category" unless you are converging on the same position as your rivals. So here's how you'll get a leg up on first place, or get there if you didn't launch first.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I took a look at this concept a year ago. I wanted to see if thinking inside the box actually helped companies succeed. I looked at the names selected by the top Web 2.0 companies and tried to determine if copying another successful name led to success or failure for the copying firm. You can find the results here:

Result: Thinking inside the box = extraordinarily bad idea.