Within the “Web 2.0” world, one of the more interesting spectator sports is watching start-ups launch a new service that is already widely available in the market. A good example is video-sharing in which a steady flow of start-ups continue to emerge despite YouTube’s dominance. You could say the same thing about search engines, which has seen a steady parade of new players, and many other online markets.

The question is how do you create a better mousetrap? How do you create a service or product that captures the imagination of users/consumers even though there is a perfectly good product/service already available. It clearly helps if a new product is better and it is easier to use. Great design, strong branding and price are also important.

An interesting case study when it come to the launch of me-too products will be the Dyson Airblade, a new hand dryer from the people who make Dyson vacuum cleaners. Over the years, hand dryers haven’t change that much. You put your hands under a blast of hot air for a few second before drying your hands on your pants.

James Dyson says this scenario always “annoyed” him – hence the Airblade. Here’s the marketing blurb:

The Dyson Airblade™ hand dryer works in just 12 seconds – scraping water from hands like a windshield wiper. It’s the fastest hand dryer, powered by the unique Dyson digital motor. A HEPA filter cleans the air before blowing it onto hands, so it’s also hygienic. And it uses up to 80% less energy than warm air hand dryers.

It’s left to be seen whether the Airblade will be successful but the idea is definitely interesting given it’s entering a market where there has been little innovation. The question is whether the hand dryer market is ripe for change or whether the status quo will continue to rule the day.

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