Saturday, March 06, 2010

A direct correlation between unemployment and breakfast sales

An inventor can disclose a brilliant invention, which can change the way we live (ie, be an innovation), but "changed circumstances" can intervene. During the Civil War, the introduction of the Spencer repeating rifle changed the way battles were fought [eg, East Cavalry Field, Selma] but the Army later decided repeating rifles wasted ammunition, and dumped them for a single shot Springfield.

In an article at financeyahoo titled Has the Breakfast Bubble Popped? , one sees that all the breakfast innovations of the fast food industry are no match for the reality of the presence bad economic times. In the story, McDonald's is viewed as the first mover, but then copied by its competitors. In one case, the appearance of the product was at issue:

"We know that Americans love breakfast," said Mark Chmiel, Denny's chief marketing and innovation officer. And, with the introduction of the "Denny's Dome" container, consumers wouldn't have to "settle for fast food in clamshells or wrappers anymore."

But then changed circumstances intervened:

As unemployment has gone up, breakfast sales have dropped.

"Typically, if you're unemployed, you're not getting up at six and not going through the drive-thru," Jeffrey Bernstein, an analyst at Barclays Capital told the Washington Post. "There is a direct correlation between unemployment and breakfast sales."

In terms of a Civil War analogy, contemplate Burnside's strategy at Fredericksburg. If implemented at the initial time planned, it was actually pretty good. Implemented later, the strategy was a disaster.

So also with inventions. What is in the patent document itself is not the end of the story as to whether the invention will take off. People that tell you they can value the patent document itself are whistling by the graveyard. Don't be fooled again.

Of fast food and IP, see also

The saga of the $5 footlong: lessons for IP people?

**Of changed circumstances, consider Detroit:

"Things that were unthinkable are now becoming thinkable."


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