An article about focused and independent one-product-companies with good and successful products. Selling one flagship product and then diversifying it is a good strategy for a single-product-company’s success story.
As a company with only a single product the focus is on further development, creative new applications or editions, attentive customer service and the effective marketing of the product. Easily put it’s only one developing focus and less varying problems. If you pick a company, that is doing well these days, they most likely have more than one product or division that they are selling. This is because there is always the temptation of expanding into new markets or diversions of products. Can you succeed by selling only one product? Many companies start out small by focusing their energy on a single product, with the plan to expand into other markets once the business takes off. But not every company wants to diversify their range and prefer to do one thing and do it well, rather than risk the brand and maybe also the quality of the goods.
These five companies have stuck with the core product by taking the one-product concept to a whole new level and they stick to developing and optimizing their flagship product – they are global, successful and single.
1. WD-40 Company, Inc. (Rocket Chemical Company) – WD-40
Product: WD-40 the anti-rust lubricating spray
WD-40 stands for ‘Water Displacement perfected on the 40th try’. It was first developed for the Atlas space missile program to prevent the umbilical cord from rusting and to protect the outer skin. That the penetrating oil was later distributed is the fault of the employees – they pinched the product for home use and gave it to friends and family. Word of mouth and the effectiveness of the product were the only reasons it was later introduced to the market.
As a marketing strategy WD-40 Company hands out samples with some ideas and suggestions on “how” and “for what” the product can be used. The oil has a huge spectrum of usage and Bill Noble the Managing Director of WD-40 Company said: “The average consumer doesn’t know how much they have got or how much they have paid for it. So that’s not a bad thing for us.” He also claims that within the US around 90% of the people have heard of WD-40.
Revenue: $383.81 million in 2014
2. Maclaren – Baby Strollers
Product: Easy-to-fold and lightweight Baby Stroller
The Porsche among the baby strollers was originally developed in Britain. It stands out with its lightweight and its easy way to be folded. In general it is only one product diversified into a bigger unit and different varieties. So far Maclaren has eight different buggies in the core collection.
Since the iconic umbrella-fold buggy was patented in 1965 Maclaren is one of the leading distributors of baby buggies. The first Buggy BO1 with this folding-technique was invented by Owen Maclaren – a British test pilot and aeronautical engineer. Carolyn Komminsk the Head of Creative said: “It really is about the folding and the compactability that is the essence of the design.” in a BBC radio interview with Evan Davis.
3. Crocs, Inc. – Crocs
Product: colorful foam clogs known as Crocs
Crocs are made out of PCCR (proprietary closed-cell resin), which is a material that is also called Croslite. The foam forms itself to the wearer’s feet and it is said to have medical benefits. Initially the constructional idea for this shoe came from sea when three men were in the Caribbean and they wanted some shoes that wouldn’t fall off, are lightweight, comfortable, can float and are easy to put on and easy to take off. After introducing the shoes at a boat show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and all the 1000 pairs were sold, the product was successfully sold ever since.
So far Crocs are distributed in over 90 countries and 1500 stores worldwide. “What’s common in every single pair of Crocs is the Croslite material.” says Vince Gunn the Managing Director of Crocs Europe.
Revenue: $1.22 billion (12 months ending Sep 30, 2014)
4. Zippo Manufacturing Co. – Zippo
Product: Zippo – a reusable metal lighter
The basic mechanism behind an original Zippo lighter has remained unchanged. They are able to stay lit in harsh weather and are highly popular with high-altitude and cold weather backpackers that operate in the wilderness and within the military. In 2012 the company sold its 500.000.000th lighter and simultaneously celebrated their 80th anniversary. The windproof lighter became especially popular during World War II and the Vietnam War during which soldiers got their Zippo’s engraved with their names and personal motto.
Opening the top lid produces an easily recognizable „clink“ sound for which Zippo lighters are known and a different but similar „clunk“ when the lighter is closed. This is a similar feature to the “flip”-“flop” characteristic. “We make products that generate flames, and there are a lot of reasons why people buy lighters other than smoking,” Mr Booth told the Financial Times.
Revenue: annual sales approximately $200 million
5. Flexi – Bogdahn International GmbH & Co. KG – Flexi dog leash
Product: retractable dog leash known as a Flexi
Millions of happy dog owners around the globe use the unique flexi retractable dog leash innovation from Germany. As the inventor of the retractable leash this product has set a global dog leash standard. Since the prototype from 1972 the concept has not changed – the technology has simply matured since it began with the conversion of a chain saw starting mechanism 40 years ago.
Flexi retractable leashes are exported to nearly 90 countries around the world. The main business since the company was founded is the continuously further developed and advanced retractable dog leash.
Revenue: approximately $56.819 million in 2010
Single product companies can easily get into trouble if their product becomes no longer popular, unnecessary or if they are hit with a patent infringement. In order to guard the company against extinction one should constantly be thinking about ways to reinvent the flagship product in order to stay innovative and competitive. All the products mentioned above stand out by being unique, innovative and patented.
The equation is simple: Single-Product-Company-Profit = Total sales – Total variable costs – Total fixed costs