With the longest-running TV ad campaigns, Maytag introduced audiences of all ages to “Ol’ Lonely”—the repairman with nothing to do because Maytag products were so reliable they never broke down. Since 1967, the company built its entire brand around this concept of repair people being “lonely” because of Maytag, and it’s resonated with customers. Even more fascinating, though, is how “Ol’ Lonely” helped revolutionize the appliance industry, forever changing how consumers looked at washers and dryers.
There was a time when consumers only spent $399-$499 on a washer or dryer as commoditization drove manufacturers to build the lowest-priced product. Manufacturers assumed people would just buy whatever products they produced if they were cheap enough. In the mid-1990’s, however, Maytag spent money talking to consumers about what they wanted—and they listened.
While front-load washers and dryers had been popular in Europe for years, they weren’t popular in the U.S. at that time—but this was what U.S. consumers wanted. As a result, Maytag came up with the Neptune line of washers and dryers, and sold them for an unheard-of price of $1,199 each.
And they couldn’t keep up with the demand.
Maytag completely changed the price point because they created products consumers wanted in ways they hadn’t before—proving not only that consumers will pay more for products when you meet their needs, but also that if you don’t innovate with products, it’s a race to the bottom.
What does this mean for us in the Christian-products industry?
Having worked at Maytag during this time, I can see we have an opportunity before us to revolutionize our own industry. What would it mean to Christian-retail stores for them to have product with shelter and margin built in? Retailers could innovate with what they do best without having to look over their shoulders or worry about getting blindsided by companies who just want to commoditize Christian products.
Shelter and margin on products consumers want will breathe new life into the Christian-retail channel. Moreover, full retailer support of this product will show what this channel can do to move the sales needle and build unity and leverage in our industry.
That’s my prayer for CBA’s new strategic alliance with Content Road Media Corporation, and their brand Christian Retail Only (CROnly).
The first CROnly product is coming to Christian stores in the fourth quarter of this year (see details on page 30 of this issue)—and more is on the way. As a community in the family of believers, this initiative provides us a way to come together and do good for one another, as we’re called in Galatians 6:10. Let’s get behind this—to give consumers what they want from people who care about them.
Then, let the commoditizers be lonely.