product innovation

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Taco Bell recently sold its 200 millionth Doritos Loco Taco.  They started selling these babies in March.  That’s thinking outside the bun.  From a marketing standpoint.  Not sure whose idea this new product was, but it was marketing genius. For those who think marketing is all about promotion (We need a contest on the website!) or advertising (Let’s hire Barton Graf 9000), this new product launch shows that business building starts with product.

I joked in a Tweet yesterday (@spoppe) that the new product probably resulted from something as simple as someone spilling a bag of Dorito’s in the Yum Brands Test kitchen; the reality is, the idea to merge a Taco Bell taco and a Dorito’s shell was not even that difficult. It was product innovation based on an idea. A simple idea. (I’d be interested to monitor how sales of bags of Dorito’s go over the next few quarters, but that’s a question for a different post.)

200 million anything is a marketing woosh. I love advertising, but all those Dorito’s ads on the Super Bowl the last 10 years and all the think outside the bun and Chihuahua ads in recent memory are orchestrated noise compared to one good product idea.

Any good brand planner knows marketing starts with the product. And it ends with the consumer.  But as an industry we spend too much time in the middle – playing with tactics and ads and “likes” and dashboards.  Let’s get our focus out of the middle and back on the product. Peace! 


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I read last week that a fan may actually be more valuable than a customer. Initially, I nodded my head thoughtfully but now I’m back now.

One of the first predictors of marketing success is the degree to which people need your product.  A second predictor is that people want your product.  Sadly, consumers are being sold things today they don’t need or want. Marketers often spend money creating demand where none exists. Is it any wonder John Wannamaker’s famous line “Only half of my advertising is working” still resounds? Educating consumers as to what they need is not the job of advertising. Frankly, it’s what know-all mothers-in-law do and it is annoying. Providing a product to meet an existing need, on the other hand, is a great place to start.

Everyone has a shower.  All shower tiles and grout need cleaning. Good place to start a business. Invisible germs in the shower that people don’t know exist, is an educational effort. And if those germs aren’t harmful, why do they need to be killed? Not a good business.

Marketers need to spend more time on customer need and product innovation and less time tweaking market share through message innovation. It makes the marketing agents look bad.  And it wouldn’t hurt for a good ad agency or two to turn down a product assignment every once in a while because the product is meaningless. That’s the way to create an agency A list. Peace! 

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