I had an interesting conversation with Isabelle Faivre, Marketing Director of Cascades Tissue Group, last week. Cascades just made headlines with the launch of Moka beige bathroom tissue paper, a new twist for the U.S. market and arguably the most environmentally responsible product of its kind.
The only thing is, Moka isn't exactly a new brand concept. It was, in fact, first launched in non-white napkins in the late '90s. But early sales were sluggish at best.
So why is Faivre bullish on Moka, the bathroom tissue? And why are the brand's napkins increasingly getting an enthusiastic reception in the commercial market (hotels, schools, etc)? What's changed?
It doesn't take a genius to point out that consumers are more accepting of green products today. Sustainable is no longer synonymous with poor performance or high price. At the same time, commercial customers are clamoring for products to help them buff their green image.
But that's all hindsight. I could've made an equally convincing case for green success in the mid-2000s, when the Moka napkins finally started to catch on.
The point is, innovations sometimes fail not because of any inherent fault of their own. And if they do fail once, they're seldom given a second chance. Which, in many cases, is a terrible waste of a good idea.
Fourth Time Lucky
Before I started consulting on futureproof brands, I spent a year working with a terrific innovation firm. One of their favorite stories revolved around a gangbuster product launch that a client had previously tried (without success) to bring to market ... three times!
The anecdote was instructive on several levels.
First, it taught the value of thinking outside the jar. If we try something once, and it fails, we become inoculated to trying it again. It often takes someone new to see the opportunity in a relaunch, and fight it past the naysayers and 'didn't work' people.
Second, societal needs change. If a product didn't succeed the first time, perhaps there wasn't a perceived need for it. Or perhaps the product was launched to fulfill the wrong need. Pulling back and reanalyzing the needs a product is supposed to fulfill can lead us to surprising revelations. In the case of Moka, commercial clients need green products to boost their image -- much more today than last year, let alone ten years ago. Especially considering recycled fibers can now produce towel and tissue products that feel just as soft as those derived from virgin fiber sources.
Third, fail forward. An unsuccessful launch is nothing more than a real-life lab experiment. If a product fails, smart innovators take fastidious notes, determine the underlying causes of the failure, then re-engineer the product, marketing, distribution channel -- whatever the cause of failure was.
Make It Futureproof
We live in a time of economic, environmental, technological and cultural chaos. In order for brands to succeed, they need to swim comfortably in these turbulent waters. Here's how: