Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Marketing Innovation Hall of Fame: The Tea Kettle

Any house I go to, be it in the city, suburb, or rural areas, I almost always spot a tea kettle (or teapot) sitting on the kitchen stove. Informally I'd say that 80-90% of American households have a tea kettle, and the tea kettles, in turn, are almost exclusively found on the stove at any given moment, rather than being packed away with most other kitchen implements.

The curious thing to me is that I know of few people who actually use these tea kettles on a regular basis. I'm guilty of having a tea kettle on my stove, and I'm also guilty of rarely firing it up. Ever since studying abroad in Manchester, England for a semester, the land where it practically rains tea, I've been a tea lover. But I have no interest in actually using the tea kettle to boil water, instead delegating that job to the microwave. Why would I want to use a tea kettle when it takes longer, requires cleaning, drying of the inside to prevent rust, and makes an obnoxious whistle, when I can put a mug full of water in the microwave and have simmering water 2 and a half minutes later? There's no comparison really.

Yet I still have a tea kettle!

I consider this a true marketing victory. For starters, rarely do I see a tea kettle being advertised, save for circulars where department stores announce a sale. Otherwise, when was the last time you saw a commercial for tea kettles ("Just Brew It," perhaps?). You certainly won't see a Super Bowl ad for tea kettles any time soon. Nor will you see slick publicity campaigns or massive billboards touting the virtues of tea kettles. But amazingly, these things pop up as housewarming gifts and on bridal registries to no end. Even more amazing to me, in a quick search for tea kettles on bedbathandbeyond.com, I found FIFTY different tea kettles for sale!

All in all I think it's safe to say that the tea kettle has truly mastered the concept of "selling itself", making it a stealth marketing success story. For whatever reason, it's a truly hot item for any household.

1 comment:

rajamaheswarg said...


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