Blast From The Past: The Good China

Lenox China Company is an American company, founded in 1889, and specializes in selling ceramic articles, dinning plates and complete sets of dinnerware. Lenox china sets became so popular in the early 20th century, and when faced by the European competition, Lenox resorted to American designers and artists to come up with exclusive custom china plates for Lenox. That worked, but it was not enough.

The fact in the market was that every American bride dreamed about getting one set of good china. The problem? The price was far too expensive. Guests giving wedding presents could not afford a full set, and even then, they did not know which set the bride prefers, or which pieces she does not have. The demand was there, but the right service was not.

To solve this puzzle, Lenox resorted to an old traditional solution; the bridal registry. In its simplest form, the bride would create her registry, and keep it at the retail store. The registry book would list all the things the bride stated she wants for her marriage. The bride would then refer her potential donors of wedding gifts to visit that store and look at that registry, with the help of the merchant. Guests would then buy whatever their budget allows, and the merchant will keep track of what’s gifted and what’s not.

In doing so, repeated gifts will be kept to a minimum, if any. Guests gladly share the costs, and the happy bride enjoys her good china. The catch: Lenox in bringing back the concept of Bridal Registry, added one clause: only Lenox china was allowed in that registry.

For all its simplicity, the Bridal Registry made Lenox the favorite good china manufacturer in the US, and a profit-making company as well. A concept can be around since long time, just in need for a new strategy to convert this old concept into something new, of value, to both the customer and the seller.

Can you think of an old concept that you can re-implement in a smart way to provide new value, thus enabling you to create a new customer?

[Condensed from The Essential Drucker book, page 182]

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