Seinfeld on Marketing: The unintended little “chocolate and peppermint” that changes everything

It’s Friday again, folks. Gather around and let’s talk about Seinfeld, with a little dash of marketing.

In this episode of Seinfeld, Jerry and Kramer are in the balcony viewing area watching the surgery of a friend of Elaine:

(RSS Readers, click here to view the video)

Nothing to worry about. It turns out that the Junior Mint actually helped the patient. As the doctor put it:

I have no medical evidence to back me up, but something happened during the operation that staved off that infection. Something beyond science. Something perhaps from above…

So instead of homicide, Jerry and Kramer helped save a life. Who knew that the little and refreshing Junior Mint could stave off infections? (I guess Junior Mints are the new cranberries). All in all, it was an unintended discovery – something that solved a problem.

And that’s really what business is all about – solving problems. Finding pain points of the market and fixing them. But how do you find out what is causing your market pain?

Well, how about asking, listening and observing? Those always seem to work (as long as you do it right).

In their book Tuned In (If I didn’t convince you yesterday to pick up the book, maybe today I will), the authors detail many companies that have uncovered and solved market problems by simply asking, listening and observing. Take, for example:

  • The Japanese hotel that make its money from overworked businessmen who fall asleep on the last train of the night only to wake up and find themselves at the end of the line. (The hotel is cheaper than getting a taxi).
  • Magnavox created a TV Remote Locator after asking and observing that 55% of people loose their TV remote up to 5 times per week (that’s a lot of couch cushion diving!).
  • The Nalgene Company discovered by observation that their plastic, lightweight and shatter-resistant water bottles appealed to outdoor enthusiast and college kids and not just to those wanting them for laboratory use.

There are undiscovered market problems and unintended uses of products and services in every market. What can you discover?

Happy Friday all!

This post is part of a weekly series, Seinfeld on Marketing.


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