I have often thought about the guy who invented the Post It Note. After all, he created a product that quickly became a household name and has never yet lost its place in consumers' lives.
Dr. Spencer Silver invented the Post It Notes while trying to create something completely different. As a 3M Scientist, Silver was working in the lab when we stumbled upon the formula for the adhesive of what would one day become the Post It Note. “At that time, we (he and his team) wanted to develop bigger, stronger, tougher adhesives," said Silver. "This was none of those."
Although Dr. Silver knew this formula was unique (it contained microspheres which retain their stickiness but with a removability characteristic, allowing attached surfaces to peel apart easily), he struggled to find the right use for it.
Meanwhile another 3M scientist, Art Fry, had the other piece of the puzzle. He had a need for a product that would adhere notes to hymnals for his choir members which could be easily removed after serving their purpose.
Partnering with Silver, they began developing a product. Once they found themselves writing messages on their new notes to communicate around the office, they realized the full potential of the idea.
"I thought, what we have here isn't just a bookmark," said Fry. "It's a whole new way to communicate."
Why has the Post It Note stuck around for the past 35 years, with no indication of losing it’s grip isn’t a well-kept secret. The most successful products of all time are the ones which solve a problem. Let’s look at a few of them:
The Internet was first invented as a means to link computers together wirelessly, creating a virtual spider web of information that had no limits to its capability. Although its original intent was to link business systems together, the average consumer quickly learned its potential in their everyday life. Until the creation of the internet, the personal computer’s most practical function was that of a data management system. Once the internet was accessible to the general public, demand for desktop computers, laptops and subsequent smart devices skyrocketed. With over 7.5 billion people inhabiting the world today, over 55% of the population uses the internet. The personal computer and smart device industry were built and are fueled by its ability to solve consumer’s daily problems.
Another product trending these days is home security cameras with WiFi capabilities and you mostly likely know why. Although there are many reasons why we feel the need to watch over our home and belongings at all times, online shopping was the fuel that accelerated the fire of the need for these cameras. Amazon revolutionized the way we shop with its ease and practicality of shopping online. Quickly go online and order what you need (or want) and in 2 days, your order arrives in a smiley-faced box on your porch (and with Prime, the shipping was FREE). However, in recent years, especially around the holiday season, these boxes would mysteriously disappear from our doorstep, taken by Christmas Grinches. And before long, home security cameras became a solution to a very annoying problem in consumer’s lives.
So, what do you struggle with on a daily basis? Adhering notes to your computer screen or fridge? The need to quickly find answers to your everyday dilemmas? Or is it the peace of mind of knowing your home is safe while you are away? Whatever your struggle is, surely someone like Dr. Silver or Art Fry will make a lot of money creating a solution for it, or will you be the next ingenious inventor?
If you have a creative brain and a knack for thinking up inventions, keep in mind that the best products and services are the ones that solve consumers problems.