Everyone needs to switch up their routine, even vacuum cleaner maker Dyson, luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin and fast-food chain Taco Bell
This week, Dyson said it will start selling electric cars in 2020, Aston Martin showcased a new submarine with Triton Submarines and Taco Bell unveiled a clothing line with Forever 21. Why such radical changes?
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They know that how their brands make customers feel is almost as important as the product, experts say, but also realize they must keep up with the increasing public expectations in a futuristic era of drones, Space-X and the hoopla surrounding multiple iPhone upgrades. In short, they can’t afford to rely on the success of their previous products, and they can’t be afraid to try something new.
The companies put it slightly differently. Dyson would like to help the environment, spokeswoman Olya Leptoukh said. (It’s likely also interested in emulating Tesla’s
success in this area.) Aston Martin already has its roots in engineering and technology. Taco Bell and Forever 21 are generating publicity with limited edition tops, body suits and hoodies featuring “vibrant prints.”
An abrupt change of direction can work, especially if the company knows its target audience, said Bob Phibbs, chief executive officer of the Retail Doctor, a New York-based consultancy firm. “You really want the consumer to say, ‘What are they doing? Oh, that’s cool.’ You never want them to say, ‘What are they doing? That makes no sense.’” Dyson and Aston Martin are doing the latter, he said.
Dyson has been disrupting the vacuum cleaner and hair dryer industries for decades, and the leap to cars is a logical one, Leptoukh said. “The automotive industry will no doubt bring its set of challenges, but we are comfortable with challenge,” she said. “And we are working with the same core competencies we’ve been working on for years — primarily motors and batteries.”
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Of course, Dyson, Aston Martin and Taco Bell aren’t the only ones shaking up their product offerings. Netflix
once sent DVDs to its subscribers, but now streams movies and shows and even produces them. It’s now a household name and industry leader. Wal-Mart’s
e-commerce site Jet.com will soon release its first private-label grocery brand.
is a prime example of a company that made a successful shift and even made something drab sort of cool, Phibbs said. It was originally known only for its bleach, but expanded to include cleaning supplies for pet messes, toilets and disinfecting. Going too far off the company’s path would risk diluting the brand, and losing customers, he added.