For Brands, Small Is The Next Big Thing

Big Gulps have given way for 1.93-oz. energy shots, Tim Ferriss has shrunk our work week to four hours, and Chobani’s slimmed down into a mini-size cup. For brands, thinking small can pave the way for big success.

For Brands, Small Is The Next Big Thing

The Italians have known how great small can be ever since the first espresso was poured. Today, there are smaller and smaller smartphones, Apple’s Nano, and heck, even some car keys have gotten so small as to have disappeared, being replaced by buttons.


Twitter’s done it to language, changing the way we communicate. This has resulted in a generation of “scanners,” people who half-read or half-listen to what they see or hear. So the paragraphs in my articles have gotten shorter and shorter.

Amazon made the checkout process “smaller” with their “one click” checkout process, preserving the ever-so-fleeting time we all consider so precious.


“Consumers are overloaded. Too many choices. Too many demands. Too little time and attention to handle it all,” says Daymond John, Fubu founder, entrepreneur, and Shark Tank investor. “Anything that requires less space, takes less time, demands less attention has great appeal.”

And now this trend is expanding into new categories.

5-Hour Energy created a brand new “beverage/supplement” category selling 1.93 fl oz “energy boosters” for over $3 in the most strategically perfect retail channel: convenience stores, when drivers are stopping to get gas and their caffeine fix of choice: coffee, cola, some energy beverage, or soft drink. The profit margin alone makes selling Coke look like a waste of time.


As we all now, the Greek yogurt category is exploding. Just the other day, I saw and purchased Chobani “Bite” yogurt which was so small (3.5 oz.), I was shocked. But, I realized it fit a need for a mid-morning healthy snack when I don’t have the time to get something else.

Even videos have caught the “micro-bug” with 15-second Viddys or 6-second Vines.

Why is small having a moment? Because the world has changed. Steve Olenski, senior creative strategist for Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions, shared this with me:

“Small is the new big for the simple fact that our collective attention spans are at an all-time low. The reason for this is due largely in part to the digitally-enhanced world we live in. Desktop computers became passé and sure enough laptops are following suit. Marketers and advertisers need to constantly adjust to this sea change. Tinier screens plus shorter attention spans can only lead to one thing: Small is the new big.”

People have more distractions in the same amount of hours per day. The end result? We have “less time” and we need to cram more information in less space.

Whether it’s the circumstance of needing, doing, and consuming more or the fact that we have–relative to the tsunami of info, music, movies, technologies, accessories, etc.–less time, the solution has become “less.” Just look at the popularity of Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour empire as confirmation of how big small has become. And take it to heart when considering your next product or new brand positioning.


[Image: Flickr user Sumeet Basak]

About the author

Brand identity expert, veteran designer, author, speaker and Fast Company expert blogger. He’s been written about in, INC and Fortune Small Business.