Last week while on a quick Bed Bath and Beyond excursion I ran across an other-worldly-looking contraption from Dyson. The Air Multiplier (seen below) is being hailed the next big thing in fans. There are several reasons this new design elicits a “woh” , the most apparent of course is that it has no blades! Cool.
Now I don’t normally think of fans as leading high-tech innovation, so I totally agree it is attention-grabing. But once the initial shock wears off, you realize that this thing is….just a fan.
It doesn’t have a portal to a new dimension, it doesn’t make your trash disappear, it is just a fan with no blades. And the marketing strategy definitely does not offer prospective buyers a strong reason to believe. The$299 check is steep.
Dyson is doing what it does best by “solving a problem that doesn’t really exist with a cool new product that has benefits that aren’t really clear.” It tries to build the case that air buffetting (or choppiness) is a real problem and it’s bladeless design solves for it, but I find myself wondering what’s the point? When is the last time you were sitting in front of a fan and thought to yourself damn I wish my fan didn’t chop the air so much?
In this economy a high price tag without a clear problem to be solved and lack of salient benefits sounds like a failure waiting to happen. And in traditional marketing, one would say the Air Multiplier’s value equation (the traditional value = price paid/benefit received) really seems to be broken, and I wonder that it will ultimately be its demise.
Thought a different way, this fan really could have been a godsend for parents with small children who’s curious fingers often get caught in fan blades. Maybe even designed with kids in mind (think any Nickelodeon character). Here the price paid is nothing compared to the benefit received and is much more in line with a strong unmet consumer need. Dyson mentions this benefit as an afterthought, but it does not seem to be crucial in the go-to-market strategy prefering to target techy early adopters. Too bad.
All I know is there’s no chance I would buy a $300 fan that blows a lot of hot hair. But who knows, maybe some people like to toss money to the wind… We shall see.