How a Banana Slicer Became a Viral Bestseller on Amazon
by Rohit Bhargava in May 8, 2013 American Express Open Forum.
The one powerful lesson this banana slicer can teach small businesses: Humor sells.
May 08, 2013
“For decades I have been trying to come up with an ideal way to slice a banana.”
This is the first line of an entertaining Amazon review for a product that any normal person would consider fairly useless. Yet that one review has more than 45,000 “likes” and is one of more than 4,000 creative reviews for the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer.
Before you judge such a product that simplifies the complex task of banana slicing, check out some of my favorite reviews:
“I have found this to be an ambidextrous product and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone considering a banana slicer in their home. I give it 5 out of 5 stars!”
“Saved my marriage—What can I say about the 571B Banana Slicer that hasn’t already been said about the wheel, penicillin, or the iPhone … this is one of the greatest inventions of all time.”
“GREAT Gift—Once I figured out I had to peel the banana before using—it works much better. Ordering one for my nephew who’s in the air force in California. He’s been using an old slinky to slice his banana’s. He should really enjoy this product!”
Of course, not everyone has this sort of life-changing experience with the product. The negative reviews are entertaining as well:
“I would rate this product as just okay. It’s kind of cheaply made. But it works better than the hammer I’ve been using to slice my bananas.”
“Worst Banana Slicer in the History of Mankind: Does not work with plantains.”
“Angle is wrong—I tried the banana slicer and found it unacceptable. As shown in the picture, the slices is curved from left to right. All of my bananas are bent the other way.”
“I gave this product only one star because I wish the instructions were a little more comprehensive.”
By now you’ve probably figured out what’s happening. The Banana Slicer is an evolving joke, kept alive by more than 4,000 reviewers and being read and commented on by hundreds of thousands more. The results of this crowdsourced fiction, though, are much more than a joke—the product is actually selling.
For the past three months, the Hutzler 571 has remained in the Top 100 bestselling products in the Kitchen & Dining category on Amazon and shows no signs of slowing down. Believe it or not, there is another banana slicer actually sold on Amazon with similar features, but without the entertaining reviews, its sales are a fraction of the Hutzler 571.
What’s the most powerful lesson any small business can learn from this bestselling, albeit useless, product on Amazon? Never underestimate the power of a sense of humor.
In our features-first world, it’s tempting to offer up just the facts. We are taught to appeal to the logical part of the brain. Humor appeals to the emotion—and it’s a much more powerful force for engaging a customer than bullet points on a page. This doesn’t mean you need to transform your brand into a stand up comedian overnight—and yes, sometimes it may open you up to being the butt of the joke—but having a sense of humor shows that you’re willing to be more human with your brand. And ultimately human companies are the ones that manage to build more trust and loyalty with their customers.
Your product may not save marriages or be as uniquely ambidextrous as the Hutzler 571, but you might be amazed at what new opportunities may come if you can just avoid taking your business too seriously and have a little more fun with it.
Rohit Bhargava is founder of the Influential Marketing Group, one of the world’s leading voices on creating more human companies and author of the recent bestselling book Likenomics . He is the proud owner of a Hutzler 571 and is currently working with a team in Brazil to develop the new WiFi Enabled Biometric Fair Trade Hutzler 671 set to premiere in Summer 2016 at the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games.
Photos from top: Getty Images, Hutzler Manufacturing Co.