研究美國及海外國家的新興產品至今已經超過三十年的歷史。我研究的範疇包括飲料、健康、美容產品,家用品,甚至寵物專用的產品。也和太太收集了為數可觀的收藏品,截自今天為止足足超過180個品項。而這些數量驚人的收藏品,我都仔細收好放在位於密西根州的安雅柏(Ann Arbor)的倉庫內。曾和另一位作者,共同寫了一本書,這本書叫作《消費者到底在想什麼?》(What Were They Thinking?)儘管現在呈現半退休狀態,我仍對這些在市場上推陳出新的產品感到著迷不已。其中今天要介紹的主力商品便是擺放在正居住的南加州商店架上。

           For more than 30 years, I have studied new consumer products which have been introduced on the American and overseas markets.  These included foods and beverages, health and beauty aids, household products and pet products.  My wife and I amassed a huge collection (over 180 thousand items now) of the winners and losers which are presently housed in a facility in Ann Arbor Michigan. With a co-author, I wrote a book on the subject outlining the reasons for failure called “What Were They Thinking?”  Despite being semi-retired these days I continue to be fascinated by the new entries which come on the market.  For the most part, we see products that show up on the local shelves of the retail stores in Southern California where we now live.

仔細注意電視廣告,可以發現在家附近新開的連鎖百貨Target Store架上,有著由寶僑家品(Procter & Gamble)新生產的香芬產品,它是個名為febreze®的空氣清新芳香噴霧,用可回收再利用的木盒裝著,閃著神祕燈光,還能選擇香味。
盒內的燈光以電池方式供電,並在木盒底部以金字塔的造型呈現。顯然的這樣的燈光能足以提供熱能,一方面能有迷人的光線,一方面又能讓香味芬芳滿室。香水的味道分很多種,其中最受人關注的是「小紅莓梨果(Cranberry Pear」、「燦開楊花香(Willow Blossom Nature)」。若是香水放在盒內,燈光也一併點上時。四小時候,燈光會自動熄滅。要是想要重新點燈,只要將香水瓶重新裝上即可。這些都是「中國製造」的商品,這些也許在當地已經盛行許久,但美國大眾可是第一次看到這麼聰明的室內燈飾。這項已專利申請中。(Patent Pending
           Spotted on television advertising initially, and found on the shelves of a newly remolded Target Store in our area is a really innovative fragrance-type product from Procter & Gamble. It is a “febreze® home collection flameless luminary” which comes in a square box containing a “reusable wooden base, changeable scented shades and a soft flickering light.”  The “light” is a battery operated small pyramid-shaped light mounted on the wooden base.  It apparently warms up enough when lit to activate the scented shade you place over the light source.  The shades themselves are transparent and printed with different attractive designs.  Fragrances are varied, and include two we spotted as “Cranberry Pear” and “Willow Blossom Nature.”   Assuming the shade (which activates the light when pushed down on the base) is left alone, the light extinguishes itself after four hours.  To reactivate the light, the user picks up the shade and replaces it on the base.  “Made in China,” these may already be available overseas.  But we have never seen anything like these clever room luminaries before!    The packages are marked “Patent Pending”!

普遍來說,在美國除了荒郊野外之外,電力在每一個家庭中都能隨手可得。只要沒有颱風來襲. 物干擾,或其它天災,電力可以維持24小時沒有問題。儘管燭光已經成為幾世紀以來的主要照明工具,電燈照明仍是現代人的主要照明工具。直到今天,蠟燭仍成 為美國消費者在燭光晚餐時,作為添加氣氛的最佳首選。還有另外一種兩全其美的由電力供應的人工蠟燭,現在深受兩派人馬歡迎。顯然地,電蠟燭能夠以各種形狀 出現,在家裡的各個角落,當然,亮度更是不容置疑。
           Generally speaking, electricity is plentiful in almost every home in America except very rural or wilderness areas.   Without interference from severe storms or other natural occurrences, it is available 24 hours a day.  So whereas candles served as one of the main light source generations ago, electric lights are our main source of illumination.  Candles are and have always been popular among many American consumers as they add a certain ambience to the dining room table or around the sitting room in the evening. And artificial candles, powered by batteries have become quite popular.  These can range from the tall simulated wax candles placed in holders, to broad-based artificial wax candles available with a battery-powered light in the candle, itself.  Obviously, artificially powered candles of any type can be considered safer to use around the house than those which are actually burned with lighted flames.

在這個同時,美國家庭都是由愉悅的香味所組成的。美國人也持續接受不同觀念的轟炸,用不同味道的芳香佈置家裡的氣氛,並且讓家中的每一個成員住得更開心。經過這些時間,香氛蠟燭更受歡迎了。有時候用這些蠟燭讓原本不甚好聞的家裡改變氣味。有的時候讓氣味更芳香。寶僑家品與莊臣(the S.C. Johnson Company)是最大的芳香器製造商。屬於寶僑家品的“Febreze®的噴霧劑,氣融膠等小工具,更是美國現今最暢銷的家庭用芳香器產品。Febreze®也用在P&G 的洗滌劑,衣物柔軟劑,還有多種用來清潔毛毯、窗簾的清潔劑裡。只要去零售商店走一圈,就能輕易認出我們平常用的那些牌子,在今天的市場佔有率頗高。零售業在今天萎靡不振的經濟中是唯一還能緩慢成長的產業。這些不靠打廣告的小眾品牌,在此時成為這個市場上的領導者。行銷的創意永遠趕不及消費者的喜新厭舊。Time waits for no marketer to innovate

           At the same time, Americans are fond of “pleasant smelling” homes.  We are constantly bombarded with new concepts and configurations for fragrances to change the home atmosphere to make it more pleasant for the occupants. Over a number of the past several years, fragranced real candles have become popular.  Sometimes these are used to mask unpleasant household odors, and at other times to make the ambience pleasanter.  Procter & Gamble along with the S.C. Johnson Company are the largest manufacturers of consumer-used air-changing products.  P&G’s “Febreze®” brand of sprays, aerosols and “gadgets” is probably the best selling line of fragrance-changing products in America at this time.  Febreze® is also used in P&G detergents and fabric softeners, and in various household chemical products for cleaning rugs and drapes and floors, etc. Visits to retailers indicate that most of the older well recognized brands of this category of products have for the most part, disappeared!   Retailers in these days of the poor economy are ceasing to stock the slower moving, unadvertised or under-advertised items and brands which were at one time the leaders. “Time waits for no marketer to innovate”

的新產品創新絕對不同凡響。消費者見到的第一眼就會馬上被吸引住了。我認為這款既聰明又獨特的新產 品充滿無窮潛力。但不幸地,我也必須對這款不尋常的產品表達個人意見。大筆數字的退稅會成為這款產品的包袱,一個正方形的平盒包裝內裝有兩支,這樣會造成 零售通路成本很大的負擔。光是一盒內兩包裝就要價4.95美元了。況且包裝上還有「為了保持氣味持久,請每周更換燈芯」這樣的建議。消費者看到這樣的建議只好望之卻步,裹足不前了。因為很少有任何一個消費者願意在這樣的經濟不景氣的時代,讓自己的錢包跟自己過意不去。

           This innovative new entry from from P&G is definitely unusual, and attracted our attention immediately when we first saw the advertising.  I give it a potential top rating for a clever and unique new produce   Unfortunately, I have to express my concern that while the whole concept is unusual, a potential drawback is the cost of the refill “shades.”  Two come individually sealed, packed in a square, flat box.  But they carry a high retail cost -- apparently $4.95 for the box of two refills.  With the suggestion “To refresh the scent, REPLACE the shade every week,” we remain concerned over the expense of replacement.  Hardly an expenditure the average consumer may want to make in these economically difficult times.  


           They get my vote of 4 stars for uniqueness – and I hope they become a big success.

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