The triumph of the banal

It’s true: the vast majority of successful products are hardly remarkable.

As I walked to the Union Square market today, carrying two thermAsnap™ cooler bags, I thought about the bags. This company appears to be doing exceptionally well. They have a huge profit margin, very strong distribution in fish and ice cream stores and supermarkets, and they keep growing (hey, their website even has videos).

But the product is poorly designed. The thermAsnaps come UNsnapped all the time. The graphics are abysmal. The copy includes the helpful reminder that you shouldn’t put hot and cold items together in the same bag.

It doesn’t matter. Not one bit. They’re still doing great.

The lesson? I think that there are two. The first is that setting out to win in an overlooked market by sewing up distribution and eliminating reasons for your distributors to switch is a fine plan when it works. And the second is that there are plenty of markets where competition is thin and becoming a slave to fashion not only isn’t necessary, it’s not even a good idea. You don’t always have to show up on the "what’s hot" list to be successful.

Remember, too, not to put your hot and cold items in the same bag at the same time, please.