WD-40 Finds Growth for 50 Year-old
How to Find New Customers for Existing Products
By Denise Harrison,
WD-40 Faces a Growth Challenge
WD-40, a well-recognized
brand faced the growth dilemma -- the chairman put out a goal to grow the
business by $100 million from new products (or product innovations) introduced during
the next three years (Gary Ridge, Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2006). This
would be difficult for a product like WD-40, which has been in existence for
over 50 years. What could be new? In order to meet the challenge the WD-40 Team
Tomorrow looked for new and/or underserved customers. They knew that WD-40 was
present in many households, but primarily a mainstay of the garage -- where it is used to
solve a variety of problems. According to the web site WD-40
fulfills five basic functions:
CLEANS: WD-40 gets under dirt, grime and
grease to clean. It also dissolves adhesives, allowing easy removal of
labels, tape and excess bonding material.
DISPLACES MOISTURE: WD-40 displaces
moisture, it quickly dries out electrical systems to eliminate
moisture-induced short circuits.
PENETRATES: WD-40 loosens rust-to-metal
bonds and frees stuck, frozen or rusted metal parts.
LUBRICATES: WD-40's lubricating
ingredients are widely dispersed and tenaciously held to all moving parts.
PROTECTS: WD-40 protects metal surfaces
with corrosion-resistant ingredients to shield against moisture and other
But what about inside
the house -- were there no applications inside the house? Are there no cleaning
issues in the house? Is nothing stuck inside the house? Are there no squeaks in
The Team Tomorrow set out to
find the answer. Yes, they found that inside the house there were many
potential uses -- oven doors that were stuck, ceiling fans squeaking and crayon
marks on the walls. But why was the product not used inside? Research showed
there were several issues:
The WD-40 was in the garage -- the can was not
convenient to store in the house.
WD-40 didn't smell very good.
The WD-40 can sprayed too much for the indoor application -- it got all over everything when a spot application was required.
The team was happy to hear
that the product was needed inside the house and set about making the product
indoor-friendly. They developed the pen application idea -- actually before Tide
perfected it with its Tide to Go? product. But the idea was the same -- a pen-like product that could deliver WD-40 in a small dose at a specific point.
According to the web-site: "The WD-40
No-Mess Pen delivers the same trusted, multi-purpose product
users know and love, with the precision of a pen-shaped applicator. It is
pocket-sized, fitting everywhere from glove boxes and desk drawers to backpacks
and purses. The WD-40 No-Mess Pen can lubricate hinges, doors, and drawers,
remove sticky labels, remove gum and crayon...it can do everything a regular
can does without messy overspray and with minimal odor!" Since it was not an aerosol it did not have
the smell associated with WD-40. It did not drip if you were using it to take
crayon off the wall. It worked upside down if you were trying to take the
squeak out of a ceiling fan.
The No-Mess Pen® is now a
global product for WD-40 with many years of growth expected. The new pen
delivery mechanism enabled increased product acceptance -- what can you do to
re-invigorate one of your 50 year-old products or services? Look for potential
applications in a different environment and see what needs to change to make
your product work for that specific environment.