The past may be a rich source of new business ideas

Polski: Polaroid Spirit 600 CL - instant camera
Polski: Polaroid Spirit 600 CL – instant camera (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One Saturday afternoon I went to a one-hour photo lab to have an A4 size print made. These days the term “one-hour” is a misnomer because the print was done and dusted within 10 minutes. While I was waiting for the print, I looked around at the cameras and accessories in the one-hour photo lab. A camera in one of the display cabinets caught my eye. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. After so many years, the “Polaroid” instant camera was back.

You might remember the days when they were those small Kodak cameras where you took a shot and you instantly could pull out a colour print just smaller than postcard size of the image that you had taken. Now Fuji has introduced two cameras that do exactly the same thing. Each camera has a different sized print but they are about postcard size. In the one camera that I looked at you can take up to something like 12 or 14 prints. The only drawback is that the camera, which is relatively inexpensive, doesn’t hold your images electronically. This means that the colour print itself is the storage media for the photograph that you have shot.

I would have not thought that that there would be a demand for something like this. Not today when so many people have cellphones with built-in cameras or pocket electronic or so-called digital cameras. But when I asked the manager on duty at the one-hour photo lab whether they were popular or not, she told me that on Saturday morning they had already sold three units.

It just goes to show how some old ideas don’t go away. Who would have ever thought that the “Polaroid” concept would have made a comeback? It may not be so in a big way but probably Fuji has identified a segment of the market that will still find these cameras fun and would want them when they need to have instant prints made.

It’s amazing how some ideas from the past make a comeback or are revived but in a different form. Take the traditional sodas such as ginger beer, cream soda and raspberry flavours that have been revived over the past few years. Then there are motor vehicles that have made a huge resurgence. Think of the Mini, for instance.

These products from yesteryear have been revived and have found a new market. It’s not always those who hanker for the past or are nostalgic that buy these products but the young consumer customer wants to experience different things, different tastes and drive a perky motorcar. Vinyl records were declared dead many years ago but brand-new ones are now available in music stores.

Is there something in your past or that you have heard about that could be revived or revitalised into a new product or service? If you need assistance you may be interested in getting hold of a copy of “Breakthrough Ideas” from Bell & Cray Media.

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