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30 year-old Post-it Sticks it to Competitors

PH Post it Potential buyers thought then that at $1.15 per pad, the canary yellow 3 by 3-inch Post-it notes (originally named Scotch “Press and Peel” Notes) were just too expensive compared to the ordinary non-stick scratch pads that went for just seven US cents

“They were considered hugely expensive,” says Branch, who was hired as sales representative by 3M the month Post-it was developed to go out to different parts of the United States and push the sales of the Sticky Notes reserved them for the top executives with the corner office

But convinced that the convenience of using Post-it notes would make up for the considerable price difference, 3M went ahead and doggedly went after office supply and fortune 500 companies, convincing them to try out the product and experience the benefits them selves.

The thinking was the Post-it would sell itself as soon as people get to actually try them. And the 3M management and sales and marketing team weren’t wrong, as Post-it has become an indispensable part of everyday life, and as much a fixture of the office table as a stapler and ballpoint pen.

Post-it has changed the way people communicated, because communication changed from formal to informal, and it became more personal,” says Branch, who ha spent most of his working years with 3M and now is the International Director for Asia Pacific of 3M Consumer and Office Business.

Branch explains that in the 1980’s, communication among colleagues was largely confined to formal memos, and it took a while to get answers. But with the Post-it stuck on the memo, the person concerned can immediately respond without marking the original documents. Branch says using the Post-it note is just more convenient than using a paper clip, stapler and a scratch pad, as discovered by Silver and Fry, who first used Post-it to mark the pages of a hymnal during church services.

Convenience was the primary message that Branch and the original sales force carried when they went from floor to floor, office to office such areas as Boise, Idaho to market Post-it. Product sampling was so successful that, 30years later, 3M still relies heavily on this sales tactic to push Post-it, which has changed considerably from the time the first pads were rolled off the factory in 1980 to keep up with the changing preferences and habits of users. According to Branch, who visited the Philippines recently to check local operations, people no longer use Post-it to communicate with each other as much as they use it to remind themselves of things to do, or to organize their documents and file

Technological developments such as cellular phones, electronic mail and instant messaging have taken care of direct communication, so Post-it had to evolve accordingly, coming up with super sticky notes so that notes containing personal reminders could be stuck any where. There are also Post-it Flags for marking, tabbing and indexing documents, and the big Post-it Easel Pads for writing down the next big idea.

The sizes and shapes likewise had to change since companies and individuals now use different colors of Post-its to mark the different facets of their busy life-like small, yellow notes for the home, big pink and lined notes for the office and rectangular green notes for school. Me, however, largely stick to the canary yellow notes while women want more vibrant colors.

Also in keeping with the march toward a more sustainable lifestyle, 3M rolled out in 2007 its Post-it recycled notes that use recyclable fibers and plant-based adhesives. Then last year, it came up with its removable labels and Post-it writing tools that combine a pen highlighter and marker in a single package. “You have to constantly change to say relevant to the market,” says Branch, adding that 3M cannot rely-on the success of Post-it over the past 30 years to ensure its continued existence over the next 30.

Business Section Philippine Daily Inquirer May 17, 2010