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Sunday
Feb132005

Innovation Everywhere. Even in my underwear.

Hey, maybe I should use that line on Valentine's Day. ;)

No, seriously - I'm really talking about my underwear.

By now, you've probably seen the Hanes commercials for the "tagless" undershirts, featuring Michael Jordan.

These commercials feature men, including Jordan, scratching their backs incessantly due to the itchy tag that appears in most men's t-shirts. Anyone who has ever worn these shirts can attest to the mild discomfort that the tags provide.

Hanes listened to the plight of their customers and found a solution: silk-screened "tags" in place of the cloth tags that are sewn into the structure of the shirt.

As a person who wears these types of shirts with great regularity, I can greatly appreciate this bit of innovation, both as a consumer and a marketer.

I had resigned myself to believing that a cotton undershirt was a cotton undershirt. I used to buy them in 12 packs at Costco, just to make my life easier. Now, I go out of my way to find the Hanes tagless tees at a cost of one third more than what I was purchasing.

It's a brilliant differentiator.

Well, now they've added the same innovation to their socks, which is what prompted this post.

On the bottom of their solid color navy and black socks, they've included the same "tag" that says "Hanes, Black" or "Hanes, Navy".

I don't about you, but there are many days when I get dressed in near total darkness in the morning, so as not to wake my wife. And yes, there have been times that I've arrived at a meeting with a client, only to realize that my "black" socks are actually navy and proceed to hide my miscolored ankles under a table.

Never again.

If Hanes can rethink something as simple as a cotton t-shirt or even socks, what innovation can you bring to your industry that would incite your customers to seek you out and pay a premium for whatever you're offering?

For a great perspective on this, be sure to read Seth Godin's Purple Cow.

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