Millicarat 50 Marketing Problems

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Why did the Millicarat not sell?


We were very proud of the Millicarat scales. They worked excellently and we had very few returns. But apparently we misjudged the market. We had extensive experience in the market for .01c scales which were used primarily by colored stone dealers. But the Millicarat (.001c) was for diamond merchants. It seems that these two groups of people are about as different as it is possible to be in outlook toward the world.

The colored stone dealers are adventurers. They travel to Colombia and get knifed in the jungles. They bring stones back from Afghanistan. They consider huge risks a normal part of their daily existence, and risking a few hundred dollars on a small scale is nothing to them. They flocked to our Gemscale 50 and appreciated the follow-on .01c products.

Finished diamond dealers are among the most conservative humans on the planet. Many do not travel whatsoever beyond their offices. They live in safe enclaves in New York or Antwerp, within a mile of where their fathers grew up. Often their attitude toward a new product is "If it wasn't good enough for my grandfather, it isn't good enough for me". Of course it wasn't available for their grandfathers. So they just use Mettler and Sartorius, the large scales. And our Millicarat is designed for travel, which is pointless for them.

Dealers in rough diamonds, while sometimes adventurers like the colored stone dealers (or even worse, as some are in Africa!), do not need .001c accuracy and thus use the less expensive .01c scales.

The other market we intended to hit with the Millicarat was retail jewelry stores who dealt in diamonds. We thought that its smaller size would allow it to fit in a drawer when not in use, thus conserving space in a crowded store where every square inch was potential selling and displaying space. I think there were two reasons this never happened. First, due primarily to the portable nature of the scale and the "Legal-For-Trade" laws originating in the pre-digital age, we never could get "Legal-For-Trade" status for our pocket-sized scales, enabling them to be used in retail trade. Second, retail jewelers valued the impressive and traditional appearance of the large table-top scales, which lent an air of respectability to their stores. A Millicarat stored in a drawer could never do this.

And the Millicarat, while substantially less expensive than the large scales, was still more expensive than our .01c scales. So the outcome was that no one group ever bought them in enough quantity to support their production. It was a pity, they were great scales, a technical success which took us almost ten years to perfect, but a marketing disaster.

C'st la vie!

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