Here’s a news flash. According to a recent article in Fast Company by Austin Carr, the new Doritos Locos Taco (or DLT) has been purchased over 450 MILLION times to date. It also increased overall sales by more than 13%, and caused the chain to to hire 15,000 more employees to handle all the new customers. Taco Bell is planning to roll out additional Doritos-flavored products, and even Frito-Lay is going to start making Taco Bell-flavored Doritos.
When was the last time your brand created a new product that 450 million people lined up to buy? The important thing to remember here is this wasn’t just a recipe change. It was a matter of cashing in on the cache’ of a product in a different food category. You can just imagine the dialogue at the initial meetings: ‘Legal will never buy into this.’ ‘Frito-Lay isn’t going to want to sacrifice their brand positioning to tie into ours.’ ‘They’ve never done anything like this before.’ Etc.
And yet, Taco Bell was smart enough to venture into new territory, follow through, and create a huge bump in sales. Although a taco may not seem like a big deal (it’s not) the willingness to try something new is what matters.
Adaptation and change are the keys to business survival in the new digital economy. Take Corning as an example. Corning is a 160 year-old brand. They made the first lightbulbs for Edison – how’s that for old tech? They switched to color TV picture tubes, but that business vanished. Today the company makes glass for screens – the ones we all use – in flat TV screens, our tablets and mobile phones. Today there are more smartphones than people on the planet, so you can do the math.
When you have incredibly deep pockets – like Google, Facebook or Amazon – you can just buy your way into the evolution of your business. That’s exactly what Yahoo did by picking up Tumblr, and it was Facebook’s reason for purchasing Instagram.
But the majority of businesses don’t have the resources to simply purchase companies with successful products and technologies. So they have to think more creatively. Like Corning. Or IBM, that shifted from being a computer company to a computing company – software rather than hardware.
If business is flat, or even if it’s not growing the way it should be, it’s time to think hard about how your company should adapt to reflect the real needs of the market. Maybe you should take a few key execs out to lunch. Instead of the Four Seasons, try a few tacos instead.