We were lounging on the sofa, reading with the TV on as we normally do on a Sunday, when my wife looked up and announced that she was going to buy a new hair dryer. "That's nice," I mumbled. She waited a few seconds, got up, and walked toward the kitchen. But before leaving the room she said over her shoulder, "...and it's $400!"
Four hundred dollars! What? For a hair dryer? I thought she was kidding. I Amazon-ed (that's the same as Googling, except for stuff I want to buy) "hair dryer" and found that you could buy a decent hair dryer for anywhere between $12 and $35. Where was she getting $400?
And then I found out.
Dyson, the company that reinvented the vacuum cleaner, announced a couple of months ago that it was also reinventing the hair dryer. And it's going to cost $400. And my wife, who shops at Old Navy, drives a Toyota, and rarely wears jewelry, wants one. Which means she's going to buy it when it becomes available in the U.S. this fall.
You might be doing the same. That's because Dyson's hair dryer is going to be a hit. The company has come up with a formula for success. And it involves combining three types of excellence.
Excellent market research.
There's a business for everything. Even in 2016 you can be a world-class blacksmith and still find work. But blacksmiths are not as common as they were back in, say, 1716. Hair dryers are. As I write this, millions of men and women fortunate enough to still have hair on their heads are using a $12-$35 portable device to blow-dry their hair. Lucky ducks. They are among the tens of millions who buy these things annually (let's not forget hotel chains and fitness centers too). In deciding to reinvent a product, Dyson must have considered many and instead concentrated on one that is so...well...concentrated among the population. It didn't set out to create a new market or invent a new product. It had no desire to waste time "educating" the masses. Like all those companies in Silicon Valley, it set out to make the world a better place by picking a product that already had a large market and needed to be better. To be exact, $388 better.
Dyson announced its new hair dryer back in April, months before the product would be available for sale. And what caught everyone's attention? The price, of course. No discounts here. No special offers. The hair dryer would be the best ever. And great things come at a great cost. People want to treat themselves and desire to be pampered. We can't all afford the luxury suites, limos, and fancy restaurants like rock stars and the Kardashians. But many of us can swing $400 for something truly and deliciously special--particularly something that we use every day and would make our lives just a teeny-weeny bit more bearable. To make it even more exciting, Dyson says you'll have to reserve the product in advance. Ooooh, a line. People like to wait in lines! Yes, it's that special. And then, miraculously, the company managed to persuade Karl Lagerfeld's cat to be the very first customer, too. What a coup! People love cats! Luxury. Anticipation. Cat endorsements. All of these combine to build buzz and attention. And that was just round one. Who knows what the company has in store when it ultimately releases the product to its craving buyers?
Contrary to most "new and improved" marketing campaigns ("Tastes better! Less fattening!"), this one really backs up its promise with performance. Review after fawning review keeps coming back with glowing results. The critics loved it! "A sleek device that looks unlike anything else out there and is far quieter and lighter than any hair dryer you've used before," raved a colleague here at Inc. "Dyson's first-ever hair dryer will make all others look weak," gushed Wired. "It's kind of stunning," says Mashable. The company spent millions on the product and took four years to build this using its "air multiplier technology," which was the platform underlying its last successful reinvention, of the vacuum cleaner. It appears that the promises are living up to the hype. Engineering won out. Quality is a priority. I bet most customers will say it's worth the extra money. Why? Because, as with BMW, Four Seasons Hotels, Haagen-Dazs, and pretty much any song played by Rodrigo y Gabriela, people enjoy the best of the best and are willing to splurge for it.
A tested market. Excellent marketing. And a product that delivers as promised. My wife will be one of many who will plunk down $400 for a new hair dryer, and I'm sure she'll be happy with the purchase. Dyson's new hair dryer is guaranteed to be a hit this fall. What about your next product?