How lowering expectations and downplaying its own technology helped a cutting-edge company reach a whole new customer.
Let a robot replace you. For years, this was iRobot’s pitch for the Roomba, its robotic vacuum cleaner. And for years it worked well, generating strong annual sales growth for the Massachusetts firm. There was only one problem: A sizable cohort of potential consumers didn’t believe it. These were people who valued an immaculate home. They worked hard at it. They didn’t think a robot could replace them. And they were right. It probably couldn’t.
Dwight Brown, senior VP of global marketing at iRobot, had been here before. His previous employer, Keurig, had a similar pitch: “‘You need a single-serve coffee maker because it’s an easier way to make coffee,’” Brown recalls. This made technology the centerpiece of the pitch. Which made a certain sense—the tech was cool, and people who loved gadgets were into it. The thing was: Not everyone loves gadgets.
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