Saturday, January 1, 2011

An Open Letter Regarding Innovation To The Household Goods Manufacturers of America

Dear Household Goods Manufacturers of America,

I have a simple request for you all: stop innovating. When it comes to things like home storage or cleaning supplies, I just need something that works and does its job. I don't need an ironing board that can double as a dining table or a lawn mower that also feeds the dog. My request is backed by two anecdotes with regards to plastic storage bins and vacuum cleaners.

Plastic storage is a product group that does not require further innovation. Today, I visited five different retail stores in search of a classic 14 gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck storage bin. None of the stores had them. Instead, I saw a bunch of newfangled storage boxes in a myriad of non-standard sizes with more bells and whistles and handles and wheels than I need. Have your customers really requested all those features in their plastic storage boxes? I may be a traditionalist when it comes to plastic storage bins, but when I can't find the most common, dependable plastic storage bin known to mankind in five of the most common retail stores known to suburbia, there's something wrong. The plastic storage bin can't even be found on Amazon.com.

A second example of unnecessary innovation is in the household vacuum cleaner. Today, I tried to vacuum the house with a fancy Hoover vacuum cleaner with built-in lights, an automatic cord winder, and more brushes and attachments than I could shake a stick at. Yet, it sucked at the one thing that matters in vacuum cleaners: sucking. With all the features tacked on by Hoover to justify a higher sticker price and bigger margins, this product fails to perform at even the basic level expected of vacuum cleaners.

Let's face it - when it comes to household goods, simplicity is king. Today, Sterlite and Rubbermaid wasted 1 hour of my life, and Hoover lost my respect for it as the best vacuum cleaner manufacturer in the market. I beg of you all to please get back to basics and start keeping it simple.

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