What’s Up Wednesday 6/5/19

Products That Don’t Make Sense

Sometimes you see a product that simply doesn’t make any sense.  Xbox bodywash was once such a product.  It’s a mystery why one of the world’s most valuable and well-known tech companies, Microsoft, would allow its brand name to be used in bodywash and related items.  Nevertheless, that’s what we now have in the partnership between Unilever’s Axe and Microsoft – intended to produce a line of Xbox personal care items such as bodywash, body spray, and deodorant.

On the surface, this relationship is rather illogical.  Yes, both companies produce well-known branded items.  Axe is certainly a popular toiletry brand, found on the shelves of most grocery and drug stores.  And Xbox is obviously one of the leading video game brands in the world.  But what exactly is the natural synergy here?  One product-line, toiletries, has absolutely nothing to do with the other, video games.  Do gamers use toiletry items?  Of course they do.  But there’s nothing beyond that.  There’s no natural symmetry whatsoever.

Both of these companies can afford to make marketing and relationship mistakes.  Unlike startups, they have the ability to throw a bunch of ideas at a wall and see which ones stick.  Startups, on the other hand, need to be smarter than this.  Startups typically have limited funds and are not generating positive cash flow.  Startups shouldn’t pursue something that makes so little sense.  Don’t get sidetracked by projects so intensively that they exceed your expertise or redirect your core focus.  Relationships that aren’t geared toward building a brand name and otherwise growing your company should be avoided.

This relationship between Axe and Xbox almost assuredly won’t last.  The marketing of these two brands together in one product likely goes down in flames and will be forgotten in a year.  These items are probably destined to land on the clearance shelves of outlet stores.

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