I recently became aware of the inspiring story of Fiskars, you know, the company that makes the orange handled scissors. When started learning about Fiskars I thought, “What marketing insight could be gleaned from a company that makes such a boring commodity?” I was soon to learn that it’s the commonness of their product that makes the Fiskars story so inspiring.
Imagine being handed the job as the marketing director for Fiskars–a successful international corporation with a legacy dating from 1649. You’ve been given the world wide marketing responsibility for….long pause….scissors.
I’m sure it’s out there, but I can’t imagine a product that would be more dull (not literally of course) and more resigned to the classification of “commodity pumped out of China for a few cents each.”
Just for fun, here’s part of the provocative description of scissors from Wikipedia:
Scissors are a tool used for cutting thin material which requires little force. They are used for cutting, for example, paper, cardboard, metal foil, thin plastic, food, cloth, rope and wire. They are also used for cutting hair and nails.
So, given this bleak scenario what has Fiskars done? They’ve taken one of the toughest products imaginable and perfected the basic essences of marketing by:
- Identifying the real need behind why their customers buy their product.
- Branding themselves around those needs (not around their product).
- Creating strong emotional bonds with their customers.
- Creating an online community offering real extended value.
- Embracing Customer Evangelism Marketing.
It’s not necessary for me to explain Fiskars’ near-perfect emotional branding, they’ve done such a great job it’s apparent just by visiting their website.
The story of Fiskars can be a big downer too. When I absorb the marketing masterpiece they’ve created out of such a ubiquitous product, it takes away all excuses for why any other product would be difficult to successfully differentiate. Almost anything, compared to scissors, would be better positioned to achieve marketing success. If you’ve been using that type of excuse, just imagine what the marketing leadership of Fiskars would do if they were at your company selling your product.
Fiskars deserves high honor for their leadership in quality consumer evangelism marketing, and for the inspiration they provide to the rest of us.