If it’s not broken, don’t fix it

Why is it that some companies just can’t help themselves. First they give you too much choice, flooding your brain impossible decisions. Then they fiddle around with something that already works perfectly fine – and has done for many, many years.

Take the humble deodorant bottle. It’s simple, straightforward and stops you smelling like a tramp on a hot and humid day. It’s not one of those products that really needs to be fancy. You aren’t likely to ever display it next to the cut glass or amongst the family photos. Far from it, when the deodorant bottle does makes it out of the bathroom and into public view, it is normally being whipped out of a bag and up under a jumper in a quick, trying to be inconspicuous kind of way.

And as for the design. Well it’s small, flat bottomed and rounded on the top. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember and always seemed to do it’s job to me.

So given this, why do the packaging, marketing and design gurus out there have to brainstorm themselves into a corner and come up with a new design. Surely that’s a bit like reinventing the wheel, just for the sake of making it that little bit rounder.

I’m talking, in case your wondering, about the new ‘upside down’ deodorant bottle that seem to be springing up all over the place. The adverts are of course very catchy, implying how much easier and better life would be if you lived it upside down. Would it? Really?  I can think of a number of times right of the top of my head when it wouldn’t be so great. Maybe I’m just a fan of gravity.

Of course being a sucker for new packaging, I went out and brought one. I’m a double sucker really, if you consider my line of work and insider knowledge of how to sell a gimmick to the blissfully unaware.  Still, like my other fellow magpies and lemmings, I like bright, shiny things and am always happy to jump off a cliff at least once. Who knows, maybe I thought life in an upside down world might be more fun, it would certainly put more volume in your hair when you’re drying it…

Oh fool that I am, for listening to heart over head and letting my curious fingers do the buying. The bloody thing is useless. Yes, it dispenses a pleasant white lotion onto my skin, that does, granted, make me smell good. But it also dispenses a pleasant white lotion all over my hands, down the outside of the bottle and onto the floor.

Surely it has been tested by small men in white coats for it’s capacity to spill? So how could this be? Hmmmm. Let’s think for a second.

Oh yes, that would be the incredibly stupid nature of the design. Something perhaps to do with the whole ‘let’s push everything to sit in the bottom of the bottle and then remove the lid’ frighteningly good idea. Now how many marketing monkeys, dressed in skinny jeans and Che Guevara t-shirts did it take to come up with this innovative new crap design?

Did they perhaps think a more aerodynamic shape would help the gloop to leave the rolling ball at a greater speed and velocity? It’s a deodorant not a cruise missile for crying out loud. It doesn’t need to break speed barriers or have more bleeding thrust than a Lamborghini.

But then I though, hang on a minute, maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s the way I’m holding the bottle. Perhaps after all these years I’ll find out I’ve been doing this, apparently idiot proof task all wrong. Then I noticed my husbands deodorant. Sat there, just like mine, all upside down on the shelf and caked in dried up gloop.

Haaa! It’s not me after all.

I know that products, especially those of the hygiene and beautifying sort do need to shout ‘I’m young, hip and trendy’ as they jostle for your attention on the shelf. They need to have sexy shaped bottles, bright shiny colours and lids that open in 10 captivating new ways. They need to make attention grabbing promise, ones that blind you with science and conjure up images of molecules, test tubes and miracles.

Of course all they really need to say is   ‘Use me today, and you too can have smooth, glowing, wrinkle free skin…. just like this pretty little pre-pubescent model in the poster’. Or even  ‘ Use me today, and you too can have hair that bounces and shines, never fades with age or splits when you brush it… just like this airbrushed, Botox injected, aging actress in the poster’.

That’s right. We did all notice that anti-aging creams are sold by toddlers, shampoos are sold by wind machines and foundations are sold by Photoshop. We may well be gullible enough to part with our cash, but we’re not stupid enough to believe in perfection.

So really packaging, marketing and advertising guys, here’s a revolutionary idea. Instead of spending 100’s of 1000’s messing around with the tried, tested and perfectly acceptable shapes of our bottles, jars and pots of potion, or trying to sneak a fuel injected turbo engine inside the lid, for a slightly faster roll, why not just lower the price instead?

Yes, yes, it’s a radical thought I know. But remember, the average buyer is of a terribly fickle breed. We hunt out discounts. We study the sales, promotions and BOGOFs like the Pope studies the bible. We want value for money and preferably change from a $10 note.  So make your product half the price of that snazzy shaped bottle sat beside it, and then sit back and watch us buy it right off the shelf.

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