Let's Take A Closer Look

Explaining complicated subject matter simply since 1986


Last week was the second anniversary of my weekly articles.

I’ve written more than 100 of them in succession, usually on the topic of information and misinformation and often involving items in the news. To those of you who have been loyal readers all along – thanks for your interest and your kind words. To those of you who have just begun – welcome aboard. The cost of a subscription is also the same as always – zero. I write these articles because I enjoy the challenge of finding something interesting, writing about it, and knowing that people find them useful in their business and personal lives. Unlike most, this site does not harvest or monetize your data, which means we sell nothing of yours to anyone and never have.

For those who missed it last October, here is one of my favorite articles…

We Know Exactly What We’re Doing

Executives make a lot of assumptions, and many of them are wrong. Take disposable diapers, for example.

When they were new, they were very expensive, so experts concluded upper-middle class women were the obvious consumer target. The equally obvious distribution channels were higher-end stores in better neighborhoods, where they sold poorly enough to flummox executives.

So they sent researchers into stores to find out who was actually buying them.

They were startled to discover most customers were low-income women, the exact opposite of what they had predicted. In those days, higher income housewives stayed at home and were full-time caregivers. They had three options for diaper cleaning.

  • Their homes were outfitted with modern washers and dryers, and so they could wash the diapers themselves.
  • The ones who had domestic help could have employees do it for them.
  • The third choice, diaper services, were the most convenient of all. A routeman would come to your house, pick up your soiled diapers, and return them freshly laundered.

Lower income women had to work, leaving little time for doing laundry.

They didn’t have washers and dryers in their apartments, either, or maids. They had one choice: lug kids and laundry to the coin-ops in bad neighborhoods in the heat and the cold and the rain.

Research turned executives assumptions upside down.

Disposable diapers were time- and trouble- savers for lower income women who didn’t have the alternatives higher income women did. Different ads were run in different media, distribution channels were expanded, and well, you know the rest.

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