This last week another American iconic brand bit the dust, claiming to fail in part because of the COVID-19 issue. Perhaps you didn’t even notice. But I did because
I grew up with it being THE outboard motor everyone wanted. What I find most interesting about this is that everyone else in the boating industry is celebrating a banner year with unprecedented interest in getting out on the water now that many other recreational opportunities seem less desirable.
Two-cycle vs. four-cycle might be the latest example of Betamax vs. VHS. It has always intrigued me to see how superior technology often fails the market survival challenge. Betamax was the clear technical winner. VHS apparently did something else better: they decided that people didn’t buy technology, they
bought a viewing experience and decided to woo the movie producers.
This reminds me so well of one of my industrial process audits for Quaker State Oil. I was so excited to do this since Quaker State was an iconic company in my mind having grown up in the Northeast. As I sat with the company president at lunch he told me that the plant was failing because their competitor Pennzoil had recognized that people didn’t want to buy oil, they just needed an oil change, so they had opened up stations that made that easy called Jiffy Lube.
See the pattern repeating? This is a sad day in my life regardless.