When I was a young girl, our family’s toaster broke and for whatever reason, my parents didn’t replace it. Over time the taste of toast passed out of memory and I simply ate untoasted bread with my meals. A few years later we were gifted a toaster and the first time I tried toasted bread, I thought it was one of the yummiest things I’d ever eaten. In those first six months, I must have eaten more toasted bread than most people eat in six years.
Toast is in no way revolutionary and I’m sure 99% of people never think twice about it when they’re munching on a slice. I too lost my enthusiasm for toast as the novelty wore off. It doesn’t take a student of psychology to know that people easily fall into complacency and start to take things for granted when they are commonplace or abundant. Once excitement over a product has diminished and sales start so slump, what can you do to make consumers come back again?
You could slap a “new and improved” sticker in the corner, but the problem is that most consumers are not likely to trust that claim. We’ve bought enough products that neither performed/ tasted “new” or “improved”. Plus, if your reoccurring customers feel your claim is disingenuous, you may lose their dollars for life.
Proctor and Gamble, the makers of Febreze, felt they had a good product on their hands. Every home in America at some point finds themselves in need of an odor killer, whether from clothing, pets, food, or some terrible combination of the three. So in the mid-90’s, they launched a big marketing campaign which showed people using the product to reduce noticeable household odors.
However, sales failed to take off and that left executives scratching their heads. They hosted focus groups and sought feedback on what consumers were looking for. They found that people tend to become desensitized to odors and may not respond to a bad smell trigger. So P&G changed their marketing tactics and started suggesting that people include spraying Febreze around as part of their normal cleaning routine, leading to a pleasant and possibly unexpected freshness. Within two months, their sales doubled and by 1999, revenue reached $230 million with subsequent years showing continual growth.
A small change led to a boom in business.
For customers who haven’t tried your product or service before, if it meets expectations, they may come back for more. If it exceeds expectations, they may become your best customers and salespeople combined. But for those customers who have lost their enthusiasm, think about how you can spice your product up. It may not require too much, perhaps a change as small as it takes to turn bread to toast. But to someone who’s been on an all bread diet for a long time, that small toasted change may be enough to bring an exciting new flavor back to your business.
Source: Jurassic Park: How P&G Brought Febreze Back to Life, Forbes 2/19/2012