Breakfast cereals kickstarted modern marketing. To understand this history we must go back to 1881, when Henry Parsons Crowell he convinced the American people to eat what used to be eaten only by horses and the poorest people in Scotland and Germany: oatmeal. For this he designed what we could call the first modern advertising campaign. In it all the details were carefully planned and executed.
To begin with, he chose as the image of his product that of a smiling quaker, because in the United States the Quakers had earned -deservedly- the reputation of being simple and honest people, and they could be trusted. He named his product the Quaker Oats Company. On the other hand, advertising was focused on its nutritional value with phrases such as “nations that eat cereals better withstand physical fatigue than those that eat meat.”
The famous cardboard box
Crowell also introduced the now common promotional gifts and coupons to exchange for more gifts or discounts. He also used the testimonials of famous people praising the excellence of oat flakes and scientists endorsing his product as healthy and nutritious. He even created a Quaker Train, which was dedicated to distributing test samples throughout the American West. But his greatest contribution to modern merchandising It was, without a doubt, the packaging.
Contrary to how it was done then, factory-packaged its oat flakes in the well-known classic cardboard boxes. This innovation delighted housewives because, first, it ensured the purity and quality of the product, and second, they always obtained the same amount of food for a fixed price. It also excited the merchants because they were easy to transport, store and display on the shelves. In this way, Crowell, an Ohio man who started his business by buying a bankrupt milling company for $25,000, opened the doors to a new way of selling products. However, he was not the only marketing innovator. Another was a poor mechanic in a Boston shop named Isaac M. Singer.
The sewing machine that was paid in installments
Directly above the simple apartment where he lived lived a man named Phelps who built sewing machines. Singer became interested in them because he saw that there was a lot of money there and began working on a way to improve the ones that were already on the market.
He teamed up with two friends, who lent him $40 so he could bring his work to fruition. Of course, it is one thing to have an invention and quite another to become a millionaire with it. In 1851 Singer associated with a lawyer who had defended him two years earlier, Edward C. Clark. He was the one who introduced sales strategies that have not left the business world since.
Clark thought it would be a good idea to launch the Singer Gazette magazine, which would be distributed free to machine buyers, where new uses and products for his sewing machines would be published. In the same way, Clark introduced the payment in installments: the Singers were sold giving an entry of 5 dollars and then comfortable monthly installments with interest.
It was also Clark who invented the collect old sewing machines and offer a discount for it when buying a Singer. As if that weren’t enough, she won the blessings of American churches by offering low-priced Singers for their bands, and convinced husbands that sewing machines would give their wives more free time. Using these sales techniques, in 1861 Singer sold more sewing machines than anyone else, and six years later Singer Corporation it became the first multinational company in history.