Tuesday, April 14, 2009

and let's not forget simplicity

I just finished reading this gem of a piece by Iconoclast's Nissa Hanna on the value of both visual and emotional simplicity in today's market.
Last month, while browsing the booths at the International Home and Housewares Show, I noticed a strong theme: simplicity.

Spotted on the showroom floor: Sagafrom's minimalist self-watering plant container; Simple Human's shower dispensers, which edit the visual clutter of personal care products (and their packaging); and tabletop trends kickin' it earthenware-style with rustic and raw designs.

In this economy, is it any surprise that consumers are craving a redirect to simplicity? A recent survey by Euro RSCG found that shopper mindsets in the U.S., U.K. and France are shifting to a desire for "voluntary simplicity" (Financial Times 4.8.09). Whether personal bank accounts are affected or not, there's a sense that the accumulation of stuff is part of what got us into this mess.

Luckily, simplicity is a value that can be telegraphed to multiple marketing opportunities, whether product design, packaging or positioning. To start, offer the consumer an escape — mentally, emotionally, physically, visually — from the disorder of the economic downturn.

I often think of Rome cookware as having just the right amount of simplicity to make the products easy for anyone to use, yet with enough twists to the designs to keep them interesting and unique. That's probably one of the real appeals to our line and a key areas of continuity for what we're doing.

Iconoculture, Inc.

Staycation 2.0

While it would be crazy talk to say that the economy is buzzing along, it does seem like the few bright spots are in the outdoor industry. All signs indicate that staycation 2.0 is on it's way. Remember, the staycation is not just the backyard, it's local & state parks and visits within a day's drive. Campground pre-bookings are up all over the country & camping product sales are holding their own so far.

"Chain Stores Ring Up Early Camping Sales

Chain stores brought in $99M, down 17% in units and 18% in dollars from last February. As in specialty stores, nearly every category declined this month, with apparel categories falling the hardest. Positively, sales growth came out of water bottles, recreation tents, rectangular sleeping bags, camp cookware, water purification and hiking boots, suggesting that camping and outdoor vacations continue to resonate with cash-strapped consumers in early 2009."
source: Outdoor Industry Association