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Latest TiVO Results Illustrate the Impact of Communication Failure

June 1, 2012 1 comment

TiVO never told potential consumers their value so far too many boxes sat on retail shelves.

The latest TiVO results are out: huge jump in revenue while still managing to lose $21M on net revenue of only $68M. (Link here.)

TiVO finances offer a superb example of how early communication failure dooms a new product. Remember, you rarely get a decent second chance. And even if you do, your stumble at the beginning may open the door for rivals to muddy the waters.

And that’s where their failure started. TiVO’s first communication was based around the concept of “pause and rewind live TV” and similar VCR related ideas. As a proud TiVO owner, those ideas are miles away from the real reasons we love our TiVO’s – it reflects a minuscule part of why TiVO matters. Even worse, in advertising it sounds, frankly, quite silly and unimportant. It created a strong fear of meaningless gadgetry rather than a useful perception about the value the TiVO delivers. Read more…

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Key to New Product Success: Avoid “Death by Brand Advertising”

October 1, 2010 3 comments

Brand Advertising is Often the Wrong Choice for New Products

When you have a new product, the first order of business is getting consumers to love the product – love it so much they buy it.

Unfortunately, the ad/creative business is obsessed with brand advertising. And, sadly, choosing brand advertising for new products is a leading cause of Shelf Potato-dom. (With the term “brand advertising”, I refer to advertising that spends the bulk of time and energy building brand connections – often by saying either “this brand understand you” or “our brand’s cool will rub off on you if you buy our products”.) Read more…

Eight (8) Reasons Products Sit on the Retail Shelf

July 21, 2010 2 comments

Grills like this were on the shelf for nearly 20 years before communication made a breakthrough

Grills nearly identical to George Foreman’s lingered on store shelves for nearly 20 years. Then, the Foreman infomercial blew the doors off driving over $100M in sales in two years. And we learned that while the Grill delivered tremendous value to consumers, no one had known of those benefits or believed it would deliver them.

Not all Shelf Potatoes have potential like the Foreman Grill. Some sit on the shelf because they should. Contributor Ben Smith has noted that the Microsoft Kin was released with massive communication, failed to show unique value, then lingered on the shelf only to be cancelled leaving a black spot on Microsoft’s reputation. Read more…

Snuggie was A Shelf Potato

July 12, 2010 1 comment

Why would a shelf potato this cozy want to race out the door?

For years, a blanket with sleeves called the Slanket sat on shelves. And it wasn’t alone as Gizmodo tells us. These blankets with sleeves sold okay. And when you read reviews by people who owned them, they liked them.

But they never sold in the volume that the Snuggie has. So what turned Snuggie into a super-hit? Communication.

Yup, those cheesy ads. Love them, hate them, or merely put up with them (because what choice is there?), Snuggie’s advertising drives sales. I guess we needed to see the entire family cheering on their team while dressed in Snuggies (and with their backs uncovered). And without their ads we’d still look at a Slanket on the shelves (if they ever got there) and decide they looked just like … well … a blanket. If you’d run into the Slanket at retail, would you have known why you might want one? (And did they have them in leopard print? Oops. That came later.) Read more…

Suggest Your Shelf Potatoes

June 15, 2010 2 comments

This blog is dedicated to the retail challenge we call the Shelf Potato. And, to the opportunity reflected in shelf potatoes.

Because marketing experience shows that products don’t necessarily languish on the shelves because they’re bad products. Quite often they lack the communication support needed to connect consumers with the reasons they should care about the product.

So use the comment space below to post your shelf potato stories and let’s discuss this serious challenge to retail success.

Copyright 2010 – Doug Garnett