What We Can Learn From the Japanese Beetle Invasion of 2017

By August 15, 2017 No Comments

If you live in the Midwest, you may have experienced a phenomena which swept through in July; the invasion of the Japanese Beetle, a relatively harmless but annoying little creature which played havoc in many lives.

It started with our beloved basil plants which produce the sweetest smelling herb I know. When I first saw them sitting there, dining on the leaves that should be mine, I instantly did what I normally do; tell my wife, the gardening professional. She did what she normally does; google it, and found that a white vinegar solution would do the job. It did and we thought we had it whipped.

Little did we know that this was just the beginning. Several days later, as I was mowing the yard, I noticed hundreds of leaves under our giant birch in the backyard. Not good. It had been dry, but it was way too early and not nearly dry enough for it to be losing its leaves already. But when I took a closer look, what I saw was a tree that was infested with beetles, leaves turning brown and the skeleton of many more leaves on the ground. The beetles were back, and they had brought thousands of their friends with them.

Soon, the beetles were the talk of the town, or least my golf group and the guys who take care of our course. One said, “Buy the bags. I pulled thousands out of my yard with them”, and so I ventured out to find them. Here’s where the marketing lesson comes into play.

My first stop (and only stop) was Westlake’s Ace Hardware, my go-to for anything related to anything for our home. I expected to go in, stroll through the aisles looking for insecticides and beetle traps, and wander around for a while before I would finally break down and ask a clerk. Instead, there was a Spectracide Bag-a-Bug Japanese Beetle Trap display right inside the door. Nirvana for guy shopping! I slowly gazed over the options and quickly loaded up with a trap and spare bags. I was ready.

So the whole point of this is; for great marketing, you have to have the right product, at the right price, promoted in the right way and distributed at the right time and in the right way to have success. Boy did Spectracide and Westlake’s get it right. They had the product that would do the trick (and it did), priced in a way that made sense (although I’m not sure it mattered in this case), displayed in a way where even I couldn’t miss it at a time when I desperately needed it. Westlake’s knew that everyone in town would be looking for a solution and they put the display right up front to make it easy on me. Job well done.

So as you go to market with new products and services, ask yourself:

  • Is my product right? Does it meet a need? Is it better than the others?
  • Is my price fair? Will my customers buy it? Can I make money with it?
  • Does my advertising convey the key messaging? Is my visual representation consistent with my messaging and will it catch the attention of the customer? Does it stand out from the competition?
  • Do my distribution methods make it easy for my customer to find it? And buy it?

Hopefully those pesky bugs are long gone, but the marketing practice they’ve reminded us about lives on. If you would like some help evaluating the way you go to market with your products or services, contact me direct. Our agency provides a wide variety of research and marketing solutions.