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There’s beauty in simplicity

July 29, 2005

British baker, Hovis will introduce “Hovis Invisible”; crustless bread for kids. Through research, they discovered that while kids loved the tasty soft center of bread, they found they tough exterior unappealing. This was forcing the time pressured British mother to do the hard work of cutting the crusts off sandwiches.

This new product introduction forces us to ask some interesting questions:

Is it just another SKU to keep the retailer happy?

Is it really bread, without the crust?

Does it just lead to category over-choice?

The purists might argue that this new product hardly represents the cutting-edge of meaningful innovation and ask a number of cynical questions, like those listed above. The reality for the bread company is that this simple and seemingly un-remarkable insight can break down the barrier to increased bread consumption for a key demographic, kids.

Heinz discovered a similar simple insight a few years ago, when they learned that the glass ketchup bottle made the sauce difficult for young kids to access, without parental help. They broke through the barrier with a plastic squeeze bottle that handed control to the kids, who responded by squeezing lots of ketchup on their own plates, much to their parent’s displeasure. Heinz than gave the kids even more power, by giving them their ketchup in subversive colors, like green.

The point here is that sometimes there is an elegant; simple little insight to be found that can have a significant financial value, if it’s understood and applied correctly. To get there takes courage and patience and often some diligent research, like ethnography.

Too often, we all expect the conclusive insight to be of “Earth shattering” and “Einstein-like”. Something that’s so entertaining and provocative, that it wakes us up in the middle of a presentation, so we can engulf it with our limited attentions.

The problem is that when things have been built to a climax, a simple idea, can on first listen, sound exactly that, simple. They don’t sound big and loud. They are things that have to be digested, considered and thought about. This is often tough to do in these reactive times.

However, the consumer wants simple, not Einstein and its for that reason, that the simple ideas are often the most powerful ones of all.

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