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Trade Routes: The Rising Price of Sameness Fatigue

By: Michael Wynne
Posted: August 28, 2008, from the April 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

When I spoke on innovation at Cosmoprof North America in Las Vegas last year, I asked the people in the audience how many were in favor of change; almost every hand in the audience went up.

I followed up with the question, “How many are in favor of being changed?” Most of the hands went down. The conclusion was simple:most people want change without having to change themselves.

Of course, that is the definition of insanity: to keep doing the same things and expect a different outcome. How can we expect to achieve different results if we don’t change our thinking, our behavior and our actions?

The price of sameness is higher than most companies realize—and it’s rising. Cosmetics markets are populated by millions of consumers suffering from “Sameness Fatigue,” a veritable global pandemic, triggered by seeing the same packaging, graphics, product features and claims, advertising, TV commercials, in-store displays and promotions; by hearing the same words used repeatedly to describe products and benefits; and even by having to pay the same prices for the same old stuff.

Walking through the cosmetics aisles of drugstores, supermarkets and department stores, one can’t help but be overwhelmed by Sameness Fatigue. The abundance of it in products, features, benefits, design, packaging, advertising, promotion, prices and even smells, dulls the senses.