Firms embracing a new motto: simplicity sells

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Firms embracing a new motto: simplicity sells

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When head of the leading advertising firm Lee & DBB, Lee Yong-chan, was presenting a new advertisement he produced in front of his clients a few years ago, one executive kept interrupting to suggest that he include more content. Mr. Lee finally picked up the six tangerines that were placed on the presentation table and tossed them at the meddler. When the perplexed executive failed to catch any, Mr. Lee said, “When you try to convey too many messages, customers end up remembering nothing.” With electronic gadgets’ functions getting increasingly cutting-edge and complicated, executives need to remember that message now more than ever. Behind every marketing strategy is one motto: Keep it simple. Consumers, increasingly fed up with a flood of information and functions, are looking more than ever for communication tools that do one thing and do it well. One good example is the “Chocolate phone,” a mobile handset released by LG Electronics Inc. last November. With few embellishments, the phone features a keypad that is visible only when the handset is slid open. Although other models in the same price range offer more gadgets ― high-resolution cameras or music-file players ― the handset’s designers are trying to turn that to their advantage. The phone has sold 300,000 units, making it the primary reason LG is still the second-largest mobile handset maker, having been threatened by Pantech. Another example is Kart Rider, a Korean online car-racing game by Nexon Corp. Having attracted 12 million subscribers within a year, some joked that Kart Rider had become the “national game.” The game is indeed simple: Players used only the shift, control and arrow keys of their keyboard. Even corporate images are being simplified. Kumho Asiana Group recently changed its logo to a red arrow, to represent the airline’s “wings.” Apple Computer Inc. knows perhaps better than anyone how powerful simplicity can be. The success of the company’s music-file player, iPod, a one-function gadget in a slim case, saved Apple in 2001. The iPod lineup now accounts for 30 percent of the global music-file player market. Hyung Min-woo, a senior researcher from the LG Economic Research Institute, said simplicity does not always lead to success. “Companies must be equipped with the ability to shed unnecessary functions and focus on the core value of the products.” by Lee Hyun-sang, Seo Ji-eun

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