Tag Archive: product


Don’t get me wrong…Anticipation can be a good thing, but, as with everything, it must be treated as a calculated risk.

I often think of the long lines that form outside of Apple stores before the release of the latest and greatest iDevice.

Once the doors open, two things are guaranteed to follow in a very short time:

  1. Apple is going to make a lot of money in a very short time.
  2. The internet is about to be abuzz with news links and blogs detailing the disappointments experienced with the new device (What do you mean the maps aren’t accurate?!?!).

It seems like, once some people get their hands on the newest iDevice, they focus their entire energy on finding every flaw with it.

Now, this may be an extreme example, but it is played out everyday (albeit, on a much smaller scale) whether you realize it or not:

It starts with the first add or the first media leak…basically the first time someone hears about a new service or device: they start dreaming about it. 

The danger in dreaming is that people start to imagine their use of the device or service. They start ‘dreaming-in’ features that may not exist, they start ‘dreaming-in’ applications for which the actual device/service may not be acceptable, and they may even ‘dream-in’ a level of usability that the device/ service may not have yet achieved.

When they receive or experience the new device/service, it is already under scrutiny: being compared against the perception that the individual has had ample time  to bake up in their minds.

There is a reason that unexpected gifts make us happier than expected ones (When you get an unexpected bonus you are happy and surprised; when you are expecting a certain dollar amount, you just get upset at how much the government takes away from it and lose focus of the extra money you have received).

So, if your goal is to make a lot of money in a short time (like a new movie), you can use audience anticipation as a great tool to achieve your goals, but, if you want to avoid criticism (or focus on maintaining a lasting seller-customer relationship), you must approach anticipation more delicately (ensure product/service features are explicitly laid out to prevent ‘over-dreaming’, etc.).

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The Circles of Marketing

Another awesome reminder form Seth Godin that there is more to Marketing than advertising!

There is so much more depth, art, and skill required, which is honestly why I love it so much.

It is certainly a great though-provoking read!

 

With You

I felt that it was time for a glowing product design review, so here we go!

I find odd things to obsess over – computer peripherals, bass guitars, watches, etc. Perhaps one of my biggest obsessions about a year ago was to find the perfect travel coffee thermos.

I was about to give up the search when, on one dark morning, I spilled my disposable cup full of coffee onto my co-worker’s desk…all over a couple of week’s worth of paperwork. I felt terrible. That being said, I’ve invested hours and hours into this search, and I’ve been pleased with the outcome, so I’m going to pass my findings on to you:

(drum roll please…)

The winner is: the Contigo Coffee Mug!!! (By the way, if you’re looking for a runner up, you’re out of luck. I’m only after the best!!!)

Here are the design features that I really appreciate:

  • It fits in a cup holder. It seems so obvious, but I own several water bottles and thermal mugs that do not…
  • It is dishwasher safe – the stainless version is, anyway. Again, it should be obvious, but many are not.
  • It opens when you perform your natural drinking action. The drinking hole and vent both open when you push the nice, big button, and the beautiful thing is that the button is located where your hand would be anyway. No extraneous motion required, and the button is very easy to press.
  • It closes the instant you let go. If you drop this mug while you’re trying to take a drink (thus releasing the button), it will seal right up. This also helps to keep your beverage warmer longer (since you don’t leave the vent open for any longer than necessary).
  • The button cannot be accidentally actuated. The contour of the mug is ergonomic, but it also prevents the button from being pressed when the mug is on its side. This greatly reduces accidental spills.

The drawbacks? Very minor:

  • This baby makes a heck of a seal! If you put in very hot liquid, and let the mug sit for a little bit, the first time you hit the button the vent can spray a little. It’s not enough to stain or spray your clothes, but it is enough to give you a little bit of a startle if you’re not expecting it.
  • As I mentioned, the sealing feature is very nice since it’s operated by a momentary button press…so how the heck do you clean it? If you put it in the dishwasher, it will not clean the hole that you drink out of (because this stays sealed). The hole is also too small for that tiny brush that fits in the end of most bottle brushes. Again, pretty minor, but kind of gross if you can see some stale coffee on the internal part of the seal.

Have you used the Contigo Mug before? How was your experience? What mug do you use on a daily basis? How do you like it?

I really hope this has helps you, and I hope that, if you’re in the market for a new travel mug, you’ll give Contigo a try!

Phantom Apple

This is either a bad scale, an extremely light apple, or it is in the hands of someone who does not understand how to properly use the ‘tare’ function.

(Pardon the high-gloss box and the poor quality cell phone picture!)

Mobile Kiwi

In spite of what the rest of the internet says (you’re on your own to search for that), Ripe & Easy Kiwi did make one good marketing/design move:

They made kiwi mobile.

I have fond memories of kiwi growing up. My grandma used to peel it, cut it up in slices, and dish it up for me. I would have become a kiwi-haulic if not for one thing: I seldom have the time to prep a kiwi (…well, that and my grandma moved to Florida).

Therefore, I had given up on Kiwi (in favor of peaches and other more mobile fruit)…until I saw Ripe & Easy Kiwi: The picture on the label was of a girl who had cut the top off of the kiwi, and was scooping it out of the skin like it was a small bowl. BRILLIANT! I can eat kiwi on the go!

I went home and tried this at once…and it was a MESS.

My problem was that my spoon was too big and blunt, and it decimated the peel which let all of the juices run out. Also, you need two tools: the spoon, and the knife to cut the top. Still pretty inconvenient…until I spied something at the bottom of the package:

Included with this kiwi multi-pack was the tool that the girl on the package was using. A slender spoon/knife combination, where the spoon was more narrow and pointed. It did the job excellently, and Ripe & Easy Kiwi even made some extra sales from me because I bought more boxes to get more of the tools (so the wife and I could eat Kiwi together).

Great move, Ripe and Easy Kiwi! Way to make the Kiwi more portable (and yourselves more profitable)!

A long time ago, I bought a Sansa Fuze Mp3 player (as it was half of the price of the iPod with the same amount of memory). It has lasted several years with moderate usage, it has lived through some very extreme environmental conditions, and it’s still working to this day.

Side Note: I’m also a fan of how SanDisk does business: the Mp3 player just acts like a folder when docked to your computer (so you can just ‘click’ and ‘drag’ to add new songs…no need to work through a software like iTunes).

Honestly, it has  been a great little Mp3 player, but it has some quirks that drive me crazy!!!

  • First of all, when you’re trying to move within your song list, you have to spin the wheel to advance to the next song (you can’t just click ‘down’ or ‘up’).
  • Secondly, there is no way to jump to ‘fast scroll mode’. If you want something in the middle of the alphabet, you have to scroll, scroll, scroll until you get there (I wish you could just press and hold)!!!
  • Thirdly, you cannot loop around the alphabet (as in, if you want to get from ‘a’ to ‘x’, you have to scroll, scroll, scroll through ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’,… all the way to ‘x’. You cannot just go backwards from ‘a’ to ‘z’ to ‘y’ to ‘x’).
  • Finally, you cannot create a playlist on the go. They provide you with a “go list”, which is one pre-named playlist to which you can add a (small) limited amount of songs, but you cannot create a second playlist without hooking the Fuze up to a computer.

Now, the thing that drives me crazy about these little deficiencies are that they can all be alleviated with software, they require no additional hardware whatsoever!!!

Hardware costs money, and some companies have limited cash, so I understand why some companies use cheaper components in their products (I don’t necessarily agree with it all of the time, but I understand it).

The thing about software is that there are only two things that separate the great from the mediocre: time and intelligence (and neither of these should be in short supply)!

(Now, before someone  gets on my case, I know we all have deadlines we need to hit in order to keep up our freshness index, but, if we are in too much of a hurry, we will end up producing a far inferior product that annoys people (anyone else cram for tests in High School/College?!?). Also, I know that your software abilities are limited by the chips on which your software is running, but these chips are cheap compared to most of your hardware components).

Therefore, with this in mind, I really see a strong link between software and overall quality of the product and the company which the product represents. If there are bugs, poorly designed features, or broken links on web pages, it speaks volumes more to me about quality than a cheap part used in an assembly.

I get that your company may not always be able to afford better quality parts, but how can your company not afford to simply pay attention?

It’s just a little snack…

My bag of Jimmy John’s chips has only 150 calories. Wait a minute…There are two servings in this tiny bag of chips?!?!

Serving sizes (and how they’ve been determined) have always eluded me. It sometimes seems to me like companies make a game out of ‘fractioning’ their food into servings so they can report lower amounts of calories, fat, carbs, etc.

This led me to do some digging

Apparently the FDA provides information to manufacturers of these food products to determine how much a person is likely to eat in one sitting.

The issue – much of this data comes from surveys performed by the Department of Agriculture back in the 1970s (and, let’s face it, people ate less back then).

So, perhaps my tiny bag of chips could have fed a young fledgling newlywed couple in the 1970s, but what about now (when this bag of chips is just the side to my gigantic sub sandwich and liter of cola)?

Apparently, if an individually-sold product contains less than 200 percent of the “reference amount customarily consumed” (again, determined by the government surveys), companies may list the serving size as “1 bag” or “1 container”, etc, but you can see how companies would want to read over this clause or to split their servings anyway (as it would allow them to only put “150 calories” on their bag instead of “300 calories”).

Well, the FDA actually prefers that the manufacturers label their container as a single-serving “if the entire contents of the package can reasonably be consumed at a single-eating occasion” with no regard to size, but again, it’s no surprise that companies would prefer to stick to the scale set in the 70’s.

Just another way to try to trick the modern consumer…

Meijer Butter Fail!

Dear Meijer:

Why did you put the salted butter in a box with a red stripe and make the wrapper blue and put the unsalted butter in a box with a blue stripe and make the wrapper red?

Until I saw them side by side, I was making all kinds of mistakes assuming that my quarter stick of butter in the red wrapper was salted and vice versa!

Who thought this mixing of the color scheme was a good idea?

Packaging Frustration

A quick note about packaging…

If your product features a label or sticker that is intended to be removed by the end user, please make sure that it is, in fact, removable (without the necessity of excessive energy exertion).

To the left is what remained of my Weber brush label after 1 minute of digging at the label with my nails (I also scratched the brush a little bit, which is a bummer).

Below is what remained of the sticker that came on my new throne after a solid 3 minutes of picking at it. I am now going to have to move in with a chemical solution…

When designing product packaging, we must always keep in mind that a consumer’s perception of a product (and the company of which said product is representative) is formed, not only from the product’s performance, but also by the way in which it was packaged. If the product it gets damaged while being removed from the packaging, or a label won’t come off without leaving sticky residue, we have negatively impacted the customer’s perception of our product in an easily avoidable way.

How to launch a product

Awesome infographic on how to launch a product!!!

This is reblogged from Unified (<-check them out at that link!) because it was impossible to resist!