Solving a problem that nobody has


As we move into winter, I’ve started to see more ads for cold and flu medications. Normally, these promise to reduce symptoms so you can feel better faster. Whether or not the products are any good, they’re solving a legitimate problem: people hate feeling sick. However, one ad caught my attention. Though I can’t remember the name of the product, they were selling a different benefit: reduced coughing so that you won’t make other people sick.

I don’t know where the copywriters are from, but I’ve never seen a situation where even ten percent of people care about coughing or sneezing in the presence of others. Most people couldn’t care less about spreading disease. In fact, they’d probably be willing to cough on everyone around them if it meant their own symptoms would go away faster.

Putting this another way, the cough medicine that helps you avoid spreading your illness to others is trying to solve a problem that most people don’t realize they have. Only a small percentage of people would agree this is a concern, and even fewer would act upon it. So unless the goal of this product is to reach that small minority, they would be much better off focusing on the more selfish problems and goals that most people already can relate to.