We all know that inventions improve our lives. And it's been said that "Necessity is the mother of all invention." But these five examples clearly show that if you are clever with your marketing, necessity has nothing to do with how successful a gizmo or gadget will be. You only need to create the desire to own one.
1. Fidget Spinners. These is a relatively new gizmos and can be found in nearly any convenience store, discount mart, or dollar store around the globe. These gadgets emphasize the need by many of us for a good distraction and way to release tension. "The design consists of a ball bearing center with flat, spindly lobes attached. With a simple flick, it can be spun around the axis, providing instant stress relief. Some sellers are even marketing them as a way to ease anxiety and help calm those experiencing neurological disorders like ADHD and Autism." I'm not sure I'd go that far, but they do seem to provide some relief for fidgety folks. Finger spinners rode their first wave of popularity in April of this year. They are so popular with children, that many schools have banned the toys, citing them as "too distracting." The person responsible for inventing the fidget spinner isn't exactly clear. Credible news reports have cited the inventor as Ms. Catherine Hettinger, a chemical engineer. In fact, she did file for and receive a patent for such a spinning toy back in 1993, but was unable to find a manufacturer. Her patent expired in 2005. Other sources claim an IT worker named Scott McCoskery sold an earlier version of the toy back in 2014. Whoever did invent it, it is a wild, wacky, non-necessity of a blockbuster invention.
2. And who can forget Pet Rocks? These were the perfect "pets" for those humans with no time to care for an actual pet. They debuted in 1975 as a hot holiday gift item and by 1976. sales were in the millions of dollars. We can thank Gary Dahl for this no-maintenance pet. Dahl even went so far as to write a humorous instruction booklet entitled, "Care and Training of Your Pet Rock" which explained how to feed, bathe, and even train the pet rock. The actual cost of the rocks was about a penny each. Most of the cost for these "critters" went into packaging and marketing. Dahl became very popular on the late night talk show circuit and even inspired a song by the artist, Al Bolt, "I'm in Love With My Pet Rock."
It wasn't until 1982 and the release of the Chia Ram that the product became a household name. As of 2007, about 1/2 million chia "pets" were sold annually during the holiday season. Joseph Enterprises currently holds several licensing deals and now offers a wide-range of chia figurines that has enabled the product to maintain its popularity with modern day audiences. There are, for instance, Chia heads, which depict famous figures such as former President Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. For nature lovers, the company Joseph Enterprises also offers various Chia Trees, Chia Herb, and Flower Gardens.
These rings are still available, should you wish to own one, through several online retailers.
I hope you've enjoyed this trip down "Memory Lane" with me. Please join me tomorrow for my last blog of 2017 where we will look at the January, 2018 Calendar of Special Days.