Monday, 7 January 2013

The paradox of the resealable can

It has been brought to my attention that a product called 'No Fear Extreme Energy' (a drink) comes in a 'unique resealable can.' I do wonder if the manufacturers have really thought this through.

One issue is the implication of providing this feature. The fact you need to be able to reseal the can suggests that it is difficult to drink a whole can in one go. Does this mean it's not exactly delicious?

However there is a much deeper problem.

On my creativity seminars I often use a technique called 'the level chain' which is great for developing new product ideas. Before letting the participants loose I demonstrate a couple of uses of the technique, one of which is looking for a new paint product. The outcome of the demonstration is to come up with the idea of selling paint in cans with ring pull tops. After all, one of the biggest issues with cans of paint is opening them.

One of the reasons I use this example is that is great to remind the participants of a blockage to creativity they have to be aware of - premature evaluation. It's very easy when someone comes up with an idea to instantly spot what's wrong with it and kill it. Ideas are like little green shoots - easy to tread on with hobnail boots. And when I use the example of a ring pull can of paint I can guarantee (I ask for a show of hands) that some of those present will be thinking 'Yes, but how do you close the can?'

Those who do, miss the point. I have a great product idea, it just needs a bit of development. After all, I'm a paint manufacturer. (In the example. I'm not really, even though you can buy Brian Clegg paints.) I don't want my customers to close their cans of paint, I want them to leave them open to dry up so they'll buy more paint. What I've done is transformed a difficult question (what new and distinctive product can we make) to a simpler one (how can I persuade people to buy cans of paint you can't close).

There are lots of potential solutions to the 'can't close' problem, from selling paint in packs of small cans rather than one big one, to selling separate reseal lids. But the point is it's a good idea and I'll sell more paint.

Drinks manufacturers already have this advantage. Going on the number of half-full Coke cans I find around our house, just as mustard manufacturers were supposed to of old, Coca Cola must makes loads of dosh from the Coke that's thrown away. But No Fear is saying 'let's not make those profits.' Nice one guys. Time for a rethink.

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