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Trade Routes: The Rising Price of Sameness Fatigue

By: Michael Wynne
Posted: April 2, 2007

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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.

As Sameness Fatigue grows, so does the desire to break away from its routine causes, to find newness, excitement, flair, better results, change, and in a word, difference. More than ever before, today’s consumers want something that will make a difference in their lives. And that difference needn’t necessarily be huge; never underestimate the impact of small changes. Still, big change packs more punch—and creates more buzz.

The more we are like our competitors, the less chance we have of relieving our customers’ Sameness Fatigue. Innovation is about change, or as Gary Hamel, author of Leading the Revolution, says, “If it isn’t different, it isn’t innovation.” In other words, to get different results, things have to be done differently.

A simple thought; yet, it is amazing how so many cosmetics companies and their suppliers the world over still work so hard at doing the same things over and over in the vain hope of producing different—and preferably better—results. Inevitably, the result is Sameness.

What’s worse is that by simply doing the same things they have always done, these companies are, in effect, also doing the same things their competitors are doing. How can a competitive advantage be gained? What chance is there of creating new and exciting innovative value for a consumer base?