After reading your post on Filofax and companies who don’t listen to their users I would like share some of my thoughts.
1- For planners and organizers there are always difficulties in keeping in line with what the core customers want and what we can produce to bring in new users. In this sunset industry (some people would say it is sunset) it is more and more important that we grab the younger youth customers. Even younger kids who are taught by their parents or teacher to keep in the habit of being organized. Those are our future market and customers.
So what does this say about the core or hard core users. Number one rule is do not rock the boat. We learned this the hard way. Especially the formats and cover design. Slight changes of fonts, color or cover design will greatly impact these users and 90 percent of the time they will hate it. The solution is to not change the core products for these users but minor adjustments such as more color cover offerings or different texture covers. On the guts side will be updated information sections and different paper selections plus slight updates of the formats over time so the end users can adjust to it.
2- Filofax: They have the same problem as many of the other companies including us is that will this be a profitable business in the future or will it die off 10 years down the road. This stuck in my head for the past few weeks when I see what is happening in the market trend is that “Do we want to become the king of the typewriters”. Will this happen in the planner and organizer industry…most likely yes within the next 10 years. The goal is to find your direction…find your focus in what products you want to develop and offer. As business goes it is shrinking every year and we must find new ideas to grow.
Here are my thoughts on Moleskine. I do apologize that I might be harsh on this but I am not standing from the consumer side but from a branded company side.
Moleskine is a great brand with a great product image…with something that started out as a simple product and turned into a global niche brand that everyone tried to follow….but is it just an empty shell with no clear direction on where to go.
Moleskine started out in semi selective markets where the cool folks picked it up (Designers, Celebrities, artists and such) with it they gathered a hard core user base who thinks they are more creative than the mass public. They feel using Moleskine put you in a higher level of consumerism. However in a global market a brand cannot make money on just the few folks. Would Moleskine's popularity be where they are now without the mass public snatching up their product? The answer is no.
However here is where lays the catch 22 problem. Which means if you become popular it is hard to be cool with your hard core users. Also you need to make $$ so you have to mass market sale the goods and then expand your company. There is no in between. You either will be small and mostly unknown and cater only to the hardcore users and risk the greater chance of not being able to do more or go broke doing it….the other choice will be to go mass market and earn more cash to build an empire (with the side effect of less quality and more quantity and more different products that your core groups will not like or have to do up special product ranges for mass retail chains so everyone can have a Moleskine and it will not be special anymore…) . So in reality they went with the mass market route. When you see it in Target with a cheap look and in less than pleasing displays or end cap programs… it means your brand is just like all others….nothing special. It only means that parents can now justify buying a cool Moleskine for their kids and not think about “Did I just spend that much money for a blank note book??”
This is a fascinating glimpse inside the business of planners and what companies are going through right now. I do understand the industry is in general decline and that some will go out of business. But I think people will still be using paper planners 10 and more years from now. I just think there will probably be fewer people using them than now. Companies have to decide what their niche market will be. Mass production? Very high quality? Whatever it is, it will become a test of Survival Of The Fittest and only the few companies who manage to keep afloat will still be around 10 years from now.
What do you think?