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Can a Product Be Both New AND Improved?

new and improved

Eureka! It’s both new AND improved. Really?

It is much more than a semantic difference between the concept of new AND improved as opposed to new OR improved. Advertisers like to say “new and improved”. And there is no law that says that advertisers are required to be completely logical or 100% semantically correct. They exaggerate! Surprise. surprise. But in reality those two little words, AND as opposed to OR, represent an important distinction.

Many, if not most industries and big companies are in the business of bringing new OR improved products to market. Happens all the time, fairly easy to do. But, as is often the case, being new OR improved is no guarantee that the product is any good. Or that it will make anything more than marginally better than what was already available? Is a slight improvement over the previous model worthy of the claim of new OR improved?

Okay, there must be some special quality that makes a product or technical advance both new AND improved? What would that product be like? It would in some way change our lives. Looking back at things we take for granted, take for example the invention of the needle and thread. This is one of mankind’s earliest tools dating back to 28,000 B.C. and played a major role in the development of civilization.

Consider the tin can. There was nothing like it in 1810 when an Englishman took out a patent. Think of the enormous issue concerning the long-term storage of food that the tin can revolutionized. Too bad nobody bothered to invent the can opener for another 50 years. One can only imagine the potentially dangerous ways by which people were opening cans for 50 years!

Maybe it’s asking a little too much to require a product to deliver the kind of impact that the tin can or the needle and thread had on society? But I don’t think it’s asking too much that society at least feel a minor tremor on the innovation meter. This should certainly be the case before a product earns recognition as something truly “New AND Improved”.

“…By definition, innovation is always about introducing something new, or improved, or both and it is usually assumed to be a positive thing” – Ken Robinson

Let’s Think About New AND Improved Some More

Hold on a second. One final thought. Could it be that new AND improved are absolutely and mutually exclusive categories? If something is new, by definition, it could not possibly also be improved at the same time! And conversely, the very act of improving a thing means it no longer can boast the label “new”.

Maybe there is a way around that last argument. Let’s say that the “new” aspect of the equation refers to the physical product itself. Something we have never seen or used before. The “improved” aspect refers to the fact that this new innovation represents an improved process, a better way to deal with some issue or problem faced by society.

Whichever theory you buy into, one thing is clear; something that is both new AND improved is something that doesn’t come along every day. And it is something that makes an impact on our world.


Is “New and Improved” an oxymoron?

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