Making Old Things New Again

Hydro Flask is fascinating to me. 

The concept of having a container that keeps hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold is nothing new. I remember when I was a child that my Grandpa would take a Thermos full of coffee with him out for his day of work on the farm. While the aesthetics of the container were different the general idea was the same.

Somehow Hydro Flask has been able to become the cool “it” brand among hot/cold drink containers. They’re heavily invested in an expensive ecommerce system. They sell their products on Amazon. It seems like they’re “everywhere.” Many of my friends and family members now own them.

Seeing a friend with a Hydroflask makes me feel like I did when my friends all had iPods in middle school. I was a tad bit envious because I didn’t have one. When my parents bought me a Dell DJ (a different brand of MP3 player) I felt like an outcast. I’d imagine that’s how many people feel today when they have Hydro Flask alternatives.

So how does this all happen?

There’s a psychology behind human desire. There’s also a method behind the marketing madness.

  1. The first step in achieving brand awareness is to get a sales and marketing team that can help you get an inroads with a small, loyal group of customers. The target audience for Hydro Flask was health-conscious young adults. If we could get their marketing playbook they might have had even sharper segments like “crossfit athletes” or “backpackers and hikers.”

  2. Each and every individual sale that you make in the early stages represents a massive opportunity. Hydro Flask had an opportunity to get customer feedback to improve future iterations of the product. More importantly, they were able to get testimonials from their customers. A good testimonial is a much better sales and marketing tool than anything a team could cook up in a board room. 

  3. These early interactions with customers will reinforce the idea that your brand and your company cares about its customers. If I feel like a company cares about me and wants good things to happen in the world then I’m much more likely to subtly begin promoting them. I’ll bring my Hydro Flask with me instead of carrying an old water bottle. I’ll subconsciously place it on my desk, logo out, for everyone to see. I’ll also start talking about it with all of my friends.

  4. Once an early customer begins to become a “brand evangelist” then most of the hard work is done. Hydro Flask can spend less money on traditional advertising because people are aware of the brand. We already know that its cool because our cool friends have them. The brand identity that is established online is aligned very closely with the type of person that we WANT to be. Fit, healthy, athletic, etc. 

If you run a business that sells “commodity” products then it would be a good exercise for you to think about how you can do this in your own industry. What group of very loyal customers can you go target? How can you provide a product and an experience that they’ll enjoy? How can you treat them to ensure that their experiences with your brand are worth sharing?

Here’s the power that awaits if you can unlock this key.

  • Apple sells products that people love that are inferior to other computer companies when you compare technical specifications.
  • Amazon’s website isn’t winning any design awards and can be hard to use at times.
  • Beats Headphones often receive lower reviews than other over-ear headphones.
  • Coke doesn’t objectively win taste tests over other soda brands.
  • Southwest Airlines is often more expensive than other airlines.

Establishing a powerful brand is the result of customer experiences with your company. These experiences turn into “word of mouth” marketing like reviews, social media sharing and one-to-one discussion. This free marketing creates a strong perception of your company in the mind of another consumer that overrides their logical propensity to evaluate your product by different means. Therefore, in many purchasing decisions it is better to be the most well known brand than it is to be the option with “better” features/functionality.

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