Saturday, March 6, 2010

Extreme Consumer Products are Extremely Lame

All my life, I always thought that the world was a pretty normal place. But as it turns out, I was wrong. The world is a very extreme place. Life is just one heart-racing, adrenaline-pumping adventure after another. What's that? You mean your life isn't like that? Well, you'd think we were a nation of nonstop adventure junkies based on the skyrocketing number of extreme consumer products out there!

Xtreme Consumer ProductsI suspect that the flood of extreme consumer products began in the beverage industry. For years, extreme sports enthusiasts have apparently been unable to quench their "xtreme" thirst with ordinary beverages such as water, juice, and soda. This led to the development of energy drinks, which are carbonated beverages similar to soda but with absurd amounts of caffiene and other allegedly "natural ingredients."

One of the first xtreme beverages to hit the scene was Monster Energy Drink. Besides classic Monster, it is also available in several varieties including a low carb version and a coffee-flavored version. Monster Energy has branded itself as THE drink for the extreme lifestyle by sponsoring events such as motocross racing and the X-Games.

So if you play regular sports like baseball and basketball, you drink regular beverages. If you do extreme sports like backflipping an ATV over a train, you drink extreme beverages. Fair enough. But I think that the number of products claiming to be extreme is getting out of control. I'm sorry, I meant to say "x-treme."

We don't use regular toothpaste anymore, we use Aquafresh Extreme Clean. We can't just remodel our house, we get an "extreme makeover." We can't use ordinary deodorant, we use Right Guard Xtreme deodorant. We eat Xtreme flavored chips and snacks from Pringles. We snack on Xtreme Snickers candy bars. We connect to the Internet using D-Link Xtreme wireless routers. We work with Xtreme tape measures from Stanley. We chat on xtreme cell phones from Samsung. Even Hasbro is putting an xtreme spin on the classic board game "The Game of LIFE." Look for "The Game of LIFE: Extreme Reality Edition" coming soon!

The whole trend of mundane, everyday products being rebranded and reintroduced as "xtreme" products really bugs me. I am not a (completely) stupid person! I can tell that the only difference between regular Pringles and the "xtreme" Pringles is the label on the can and a little bit of flavor additive! There is definitely a limit as to how extreme a product such as potato chips can really be.

What if D-Link's regular routers transmitted information at 54mbps and the Xtreme routers transmitted information at 540mbps? What if Right Guard made a deodorant that you only had to apply once per week? What if Pringles started using capsaicin extract in their flavoring? These products would deserve to be called "xtreme" if they really existed. However, this is not the case with the products you see at the store labeled "xtreme." I think that "xtreme" products are NOT significantly more extreme than their competitors in any way.

The truth is, D-Link's regular and Xtreme routers contain the same electronic components and have the same function, but one has a slightly different package. Woo-freaking-hoo. At the end of the day, the Xtreme router is not xtremely faster than the regular one. The Xtreme Pringles don't taste all that different from ordinary Pringles. I don't have to handle them with gloves or keep them away from children. The Xtreme deodorant doesn't contain any magic ingredients not found in ordinary deodorant. There is absolutely nothing more extreme about a Stanley Xtreme tape measure over a regular tape measure that costs less.

Taking a regular product and re-branding it as an xtreme product is the hottest new trend in marketing consumer goods these days. This explosion of xtremely lame consumer products is xtremely annoying. At this rate, it won't be long before "xtreme" sounds as dated as other buzzwords such as "radical," "groovy," and "da bomb!" This is one marketing trend that I would love to see laid to rest.