Product Dilemma: How Do You Evolve Cigarette-Lighting Technology to Remain Relevant?

Might be an interesting design school case study: What do you do when your signature product is a cigarette lighter, and no one smokes cigarettes anymore?

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Vapers don’t need your product, and the uptick in spliff smokers can’t offset the decline. We’re a long way from the 1940s, when every G.I. carried a Zippo to light their government-issued cigarettes. From just the 1990s to the 2010s, Zippo sales plunged by a third, dropping from 18 million units a year to 12 million.

Zippo’s strategy has been to say, forget cigarettes, we’re in the fire/heat-providing business. Thus we now have Zippo refillable hand warmers, which burn an internal flame to keep your mitts toasty:

A rather bizarre entry into this space are these Zippo HeatBank rechargeable hand warmers targeted at…gamers? “Warm hands have better reaction times and dexterity!” the company writes. “Cold hands are less dexterous and cold fingers move slower. With Zippo Rechargeable Hand Warmers, you can keep your hands and fingers warm using the device’s adjustable heat settings. The hand warmer also can charge your USB devices, including many game controllers and phones!”

Back on the fire front, the company makes a line of Zippo candle lighters, both rechargeable or butane-refillable.

They’ve also (of course) gone into the EDC market. The Zippo fire-starting multi-tool is like a Swiss army knife that has a flint and a tinder grater.

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On the company’s website, they’ve got a “Retiring” section, where they’re selling remaining stock of discontinued items. It is, as you’d expect, mostly made up of lighters.

Source: core77

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