QR Codes—In praise of the Gimmick
Differentiating your product can be one of the most important things you do to gain market share. But it’s not always possible to instill a real significant difference in your product especially when it’s well established in the market. Whoa to the company that dares change the recipe of their food. We all know what happened to Coke.
So companies often resort to gimmicks. Little twists meant to give customers a new reason to try an established product again. Distinctions without a difference. But before you dismiss them as meaningless, lets take a look at a few.
Here’s two classic examples:
Cash as a gift card. I have to give the guys who invented gift cards credit for exposing us consumers as a most gullible lot. Taking perfectly good cash, repackaging it into a limited-use and limited-time product, then convincing us we need it, has to be one of the most brilliant and long-lasting gimmicks ever invented.
When you think of it like this—You loan JCPenny $50 interest-free for an unspecified period of time. In return you get to buy their products at regular price for a limited period of time or lose the money you loaned them. Meanwhile, JCP earns interest off your $50— it’s incredible we fell for this. But we did. Props!
Bottled water. There was only Perrier when I was growing up. But soon Evian and others were plopping big plastic bottles of water in front of tennis stars and before you knew it, we were all paying for what used to be free. Later Pepsi dispensed with the natural spring gimmick altogether and convinced us to pay for pure tap water. Brilliant!
Here are three recent examples:
Sea Salt. I mean, this stuff was just laying on the beach! Gourmets have used it in their recipes for years, now big companies are trying to create a craze. Planters sprinkles it on its peanuts, and recently Campbell’s began putting it in its soup. Now Wendy’s puts it on its fries. Does it make a difference in the taste? I don’t know. I wouldn’t think so. But I’ll have to try it to find out.
Miller Lite’s “Vortex” bottle. Miller crafted a spiral within the neck of its beer bottle. This foams up the beer as it enters your mouth and gives it a different texture. At least that was my impression. Miller gives no clues as to its purpose but some speculate it makes the beer flow faster, causing you to drink more.
QR Codes. You bought that expensive smart phone with the camera inside and you need more reasons to justify the purchase. Enter QR codes. Just take a picture and you’re directed to a website. This is a great way to introduce your smart phone App for banking. Consider a campaign centered around it. Much easier than adding Sea Salt to your debit cards.