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Durable vs. Disposable

Back in the day. . .

Consumers bought quality items that lasted for years. Companies that wanted to succeed had to offer parts, service and dependable products. Gillette came out with the first razor with disposable blades. The razor was rock solid made of stainless steel and would outlast its user.

Craftsman tools offered lifetime guarantees. Clothes were to be worn and then passed down to the next generation. Women spent hours ironing, bleaching, starching and washing. Cars were built to last years. Owners were mini-mechanics who took care of their beasts. Nothing was wasted either. Remember, one couldn't leave the dinner table until the plate was clean.

And speaking of clean. Durable consumers loved clean homes, clean cars and clean offices. Housewives made sure everything was "spotless." Remember Ajax cleanser (white tornado), Mr. Clean, Pine-Sol and Tide commercials?

This generation of durable ended with the baby-boomers. Generations following such as the X and Y have grown up somehow as the disposable generation.

To them, nothing is built to last forever. They want disposable lighters, disposable plates, disposable music. Cars are meant to lease, not own. Clothes are meant for the season not next year. Shoes are disposable, who needs shoe polish, wax and water repellant spray?

Clean? Forget it. This generation isn't messy, but it isn't clean either. It's OK for the stove to be dirty, dishes in the sink, spots on the carpet and prints on the wall. Forget about Ajax and Mr. Clean. This generation thrives on disposable wipes of all kinds, Swifter's (can you imagine this generation using a wet mop or sponge mop or even knowing what they are?), and plug-in air fresheners.

This is a very interesting phenomenon for marketers. Lifetime warranties no longer mean anything because this generation doesn't want to own anything for a lifetime. Who needs china and crystal anymore? Who even needs a dining room? When you buy fast food and take it home, all you need is a microwave and plastic forks.

Can you imagine previous generations drinking bottled water or guzzling energy drinks? I have some ideas to appeal to the disposable society. Too bad disposable cameras, video recorders and storage containers have already been taken.

Happy Friday!

P.S. I'm on my way to Italy for Kemon Days and Cosmoprof to get even more ideas. I'll share with you on my return.

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