Half of you will think I've lost my mind and the other half will get what I'm saying; but bear with me. I'm using my recent purchase of toothbrushes at Costco to illustrate what happens when one over-thinks or attempts to over-improve a concept.
If you've been following this blog from the beginning, you'll recall a post from November 2008 titled, "Listening: How a Dog became a Cat & other 'Tails'". It's a personal favorite, by the way. The gist of it was simple; what your customer requires is key – not what you think your customer requires. My damn Colgate toothbrushes illustrate this point beautifully!
When I buy toothbrushes I get the big pack at Costco – and usually the brand they carry is Colgate. It seems like every time I do, the toothbrush has been improved since my prior purchase. The two photos up top are examples of what I've gotten when I bought toothbrushes in the past.
Now, here's what I got the last time; the new, improved, Colgate 360! What's so great about this toothbrush? I don't know. What I do know is that it's perfectly round (they even call it "revolutionary" although I'm not sure they realized the pun they were making). What happens to a toothbrush that's perfectly round, gets wet and has toothpaste all over it? Well, if your fingers fit perfectly over the plastic grips, nothing. But my hand apparently doesn't match the hands of whoever designed it because my fingers don't fit perfectly over the plastic grips; ergo, my toothbrush constantly rotates in my hand when I use it. Frustrating.
Colgate, intent on constantly improving their 'dog' to make it more marketable to the consumer, has turned it into a 'cat'.
Well…I suppose there's always Oral-B?