Built to Fail

what a whisk!My wife looked at me like I was some weirdo. I’d just asked for a whisk for Christmas.

To be fair, it’s not an unfamiliar look.

I explained that I wanted one that wouldn’t break. One that looked great. One that I would hand down as an heirloom one day. The not-unfamiliar look did not go away.

You see, I am the omelette and pancake king in our family. I can fry and poach eggs with the best of them. My scrabbled eggs are on par with my eldest son’s and not far behind my wife’s. I leave the waffles to my wife – I despise following the recipe that seems to be required to make our waffle-maker sing. Omelettes and pancakes. They’re my undisputed domain. And so, I use a whisk. A lot. With vigor. And I’ve broken many. Many cheap, poorly designed, often-but-not-always plastic, underwhelming whisks.

Contrast that with my toolbox. Mainly it contains tools almost 50 years old given to me by my Dad. Purchased long before The Warehouse sold cheap screwdrivers that bend under pressure and coping saws that don’t cope for long.

Maybe it’s not surprising. We seem to be buying a new thousand-dollar phone every year or two. Why not expect to replace our much cheaper goods just as regularly?

However, I think some consumers are starting to realize and rally against the financial and environmental costs of products made cheaply, and designed to wear out quickly.

What does this mean for your business?

  • Is there an opportunity for you to redesign your products with a goal of selling fewer units, with a reputation for ‘lasting forever’, for a higher price?
  • How do you promote the lifespan of your products compared to competitors’ to justify a premium?
  • Where will you find consumers willing to pay more for your product’s inherent quality?
  • How can you excite consumers about the value and style of enduring quality compared with trends based on disposable, fleeting fashion, or just plain low-price?

By the way, I was delighted to unwrap a whisk on Christmas morning. It’s a beauty. My kids are not lining up to inherit it, but I hope it will make them plenty more omelettes and pancakes over many, many years to come.

One thought on “Built to Fail

  1. Pingback: Pegs to Last | Agenda

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