A Word to the Marketing Folks Out There

Today you lost a sale. Who, you say, well it could be any one of you but today's victim was California Innovations.

We were introduced to them and one of their products many years ago when on QVC we saw their Grocery Bag. We thought it was neat, it could keep ice cream from melting for a long time surely longer than our 30 min drive grocery shopping so we bought one. And it works exactly as advertised, even now nearly a decade later its still in use, wonderful product.

So today my wife is shopping for my kids new lunch box for the upcoming school year. Last year she used a bag from a company called ThirtyOneGifts who specialize in monogrammed bags of all sorts. They also make a nice thermally insulated bag suitable for lunches. My wife had ordered it for her after trying one for herself. While pricing the bag today my wife noted it was going to be over $25 for the lunch bag after it was customized with her name.

Being a frugal shopper my wife looked around and found many other similar bags cost more. Then I remembered California Innovations and wondered if they made a good lunch bag. We found several styles we liked, but they were not available on their web site. They instead provide a list of retailers who allegedly carry their products. We both individually searched several of the largest and had no luck finding the products that were displayed on California Innovations site. So we caved and paid the price for the Thirtyone bag.

California Innovations failed on several fronts. Here are a few bullet points

  • Multiple brands
  • No way to directly purchase any items
  • No one premiere retailer who handles their whole product line

Instead of one well formed brand with a diverse product line they now have 4 brands, I dont know which brand corresponds to what product and frankly I dont have the time to spend figuring it out. In this era of search driven sales this is a huge issue. There is no way to click on an item and buy it. Come on! In 10 years they have never developed a retail presence? Or even a good direct strategic partnership who could pose as their official order site? Not one of the retailers the wife and I searched had their entire product line available. A one stop shop is absolutely essential if you wont do direct retail, and any store willing to do this should be clearly marked on California Innovations web site.

So in the end their shotgun approach to marketing cost them a sale, and I am sure this is not the first one.

Please marketing people, the saddest thing is to have a bottle of water you want to sell and a man dying of thirst with a fortune to spend, and he dies of thirst because you do a poor job of reaching him. Connection is the key to a sale.


After posting this I was contacted by the president of California Innovations. He assured me they were taking comments above to heart and that they would make efforts in order to cause less confusion in the future. Regardless, for the president of the company to take the time to pen such a response shows a dedication to serving their customers, not merely viewing them as revenue streams. I thank them for their commitment.