Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Jitterbug -- Selling Simplicity, and That's No Joke

We've all seen those cheesy ads on cable TV for the Jitterbug phone -- corny music, overly happy people in their golden years, and a very un-iPhone-like phone (translation, ugly) with bug buttons and nothing else.  And, we've all wondered, does anyone really buy this thing?

Well, the answer is that plenty of people are buying it -- so much so that San Diego-based GreatCall is significantly expanding near Sorenson Media's Carlsbad office.

First, never count out any company whose ads you see on cable TV more than once -- that means that those products are selling (even though they may be the drop-dead ugly Snuggie).

Why is the Jitterbug not only successful, but rather really really successful?  Because simplicity sells.  When everyone else in a mature market is shooting for complexity, new entrants must disrupt those markets and go the road less traveled -- i.e., the opposite way.  The Jitterbug is wildly successful precisely because it has absolutely no frills -- and really really big ugly buttons!  The phone simply is not intimidating, and that means a lot to the target market.

Another example of this phenomenon?  The Flip video cam that I blogged about a couple weeks back.  While everyone else in the established video cam market (all the major consumer electronic brands) fought the battle for functionality supremacy, enter Flip to strip things down into a bare bones package that even grandma could use.  Once again, the road less traveled -- perhaps even counter-intuitive to most -- succeeds.  And, succeeds big.

So, next time you see that ad on cable TV, yes you may laugh -- but, so is GreatCall -- all the way to the bank.