CINCINNATI - When you build a better way to store your purse in the car, bloggers will beat a path to your door.
That’s what local inventor Catherine Seifert learned by launching a new product this year. The Car Cache’ purse holder is a device that straps into most non-commercial vehicles. The invention creates a pocket of mesh between the two front seats where a purse can sit in easy reach of a driver. It sells for $19.95 and generated so much social media reaction this fall that Amazon.com contacted Seifert to offer the product on its e-Commerce site.
“The bloggers that are coming to me, I’m not reaching out to them,” Seifert said. “None of them have anything to say but, ‘It’s awesome’ or ‘amazing’ and ‘I love it.’”
Bloggers including Cincy Chic , Cbus Chic and Organize 365.com are among those that reviewed the product so far. The company has more than 700 likes on its Facebook page. A Sept. 24 presentation that involved 30 bloggers nationwide sparked a Twitter discussion that ended up with more than 250,000 tweets. Seifert said that's what attracted Amazon's attention.
Seifert has since received orders from more than 20 states and Canada despite a lean marketing budget. She estimates total launch costs – including product design and a patent application – have reached about $30,000. Revenue stands at about $6,000 year to date, but sales are gaining momentum after a series of the blog activity that began in September.
“Years ago, you really couldn’t launch a product unless you had pretty deep pockets,” said Susan Harrington, CEO and president of Idealine Inc., which handled Seifert’s social media launch. Idealine is a Norwood-based consulting firm that has worked on product launches including the Saniguard sanitizing spray and Ma-Me!, single-serve snack made from Edamame soybeans.
“Now, the bloggers and the Internet are opening up an opportunity for people like Catherine. You can really make some gains that weren’t possible before,” Harrington said.
Seifert is the president and founder of Sterling Capital Services Inc., a 10-year-old company that stages workshops on strategic selling and new product launches. She’s a former Cincinnati Bell executive who lives in Finneytown and sees Car Cache’ as a lifestyle business that has potential to generate millions in revenue.
The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute estimated in 2010 that 105.7 million women were licensed to drive in the United States.
“If we sold to just one percent of them, that’s a million customers,” she said.
The product is available at Amazon.com and on Seifert’s web site, getcarcache.com . She would like to pursue a deal with a television marketing company, like the Home Shopping Network or QVC and she’ll eventually offer the idea to car companies, who could offer it as an accessory to new car buyers.
The idea came to Seifert in a dream after she grew tired of her soccer-playing son, Nick, putting his dirty cleats where she kept her purse – on the floor.
“What the Car Cache’ does is allows you to store your purse so it’s very secure, out of everybody’s way and it lets you reach into your purse without taking your eyes of the road,” Seifert said.
But Harrington said Seifert did lots of research before launching the product in June. She formed a consumer research panel, asking potential customers to try the project for a week, then do without it for a day. She discovered that women not only liked the product, but didn’t want to live without it.
“She really is a remarkable person,” Harrington said. “Like a lot of other people, they have an idea, but they don’t take those extra steps of having it analyzed and seeing if there’s really viability there.”
While Seifert would like to see faster sales growth, Harrington said it’s doing well for its stage of development.
“She hasn’t spent any money on advertising. Nor has she done retail or television (home shopping channel marketing),” Harrington said. “But she’s doing well on the parameters we look for. She has sales from 20 to 25 states. She’s hit all different ranges from career women to mothers. She’s sold across a wide spectrum.”