Book Reviews


Simplicity Marketing: End Brand Complexity, Clutter, and Confusion

Author: Steven M. Cristol, Peter Sealey
Publisher Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Publication Date: October 2000

Reviewer:Abby Leibel
Abby Leibel is the National Coordinator of the Association for Marketing Communications in Israel (AMCI). AMCI is a division of Coast 2 Coast Communications, Ltd. Founded in 1996 by Coast 2 Coast Communications, the association today includes over 100 Marcom Managers of High-Tech companies in Israel. AMCI is the only professional association in Israel for Marcom Managers in High-Tech export companies, and provides its members with regular newsletters, programming and monthly meetings designed to increase both their competitiveness and professionalism in the industry. Check out our website at

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It felt like my birthday. Four of the latest marketing books arrived in my father’s suitcase on his way to a work-related visit to the holy land. He unpacks his suitcase at the airport and hands me all the “goods”—books and magazines. My mind wonders to a black and white movie of smugglers. It is kind of like my father is smuggling marketing tips to Israel’s hi-tech arena. OK, folks, I digress, I know, but I must have a moment of amusement in all of this serious writing.

The first book among the new additions to my library is Simplicity Marketing by Steven M. Cristol and Peter Sealey. This book reminds me of one of my many textbooks—you have to get past the thick language to get the excellent ideas. The really interesting aspect of this book is that it puts a psychological spin to marketing. The whole idea behind simplicity marketing is creating products that simplify the consumers’ lives. The premise behind the theory is that humans living in today’s world, have very little time or patience, to make decisions concerning purchasing especially since the number of products has increase over the past few years.

The first chapter examines the “more is better” notion of westernized societies and whether that is in fact the case from a marketing standpoint. If you guessed that it’s not, ding-ding, you’re so right! There’s a chart on the first page stating just that fact. According to this, there are nine varieties of lettuce, 35 varieties of bagels, 6 brands of orange juice and 45 different kinds of Crest toothpaste. The problem, the book says, is that the average consumer cannot handle all the decisions that have to go into purchasing, hence a need for simplicity marketing.

Chapter two titled, “Part of the Solution”, focuses on how to pinpoint the stressful aspects of the consumers’ life and build a stress free product and brand for the longevity of the brand. 

Chapter 3 starts off saying, “For a book about simplicity, this is not a simple book…Delivery Simplicity is a deceptively complex business in the extreme…” Phew…. I thought it was just me! Anyhow, this chapter looks at what the authors’ call the 4 R’s of Simplicity Marketing: Replace, Repackage, Reposition and Replenish. These are four of the basic components to Simplicity Marketing. Replace refers to replacing a complicated product for a simpler one to reduce stress for consumers. Repackage is about creating a one-step shop of sorts. Having several items available at one location instead of being branched out. Reposition refers to “Directly positioning a brand on the promise of simplicity or expanding brand’s positioning to reduce the number of brand relationships”. Finally, Replenish is best explained with an example of toothpaste. For customers who use Crest, for instance, it is a great appeal to know that their favorite type of toothpaste is available at almost any large or small grocery store. By having their toothpaste available nearly everywhere, Crest has made buying toothpaste a decision-less purchase (pg 45).

The next four chapters examine the 4 R’s in greater detail.

Chapter eight looks at the role technology plays in simplicity marketing.  According to this chapter, it plays no role whatsoever. That is, simplicity marketing is based on making the consumer’s life easier and technology, while assisting in that, is not part of the equation.

The next chapter looks at integrating traditional marketing and simplicity marketing. The authors look at how to reduce stress for customers and the possibility of market segmentation. 

The last chapter of the book looks at how simplicity marketing helps build stronger, long-lasting brands and how that affects the shareholders of the company. Simply put, the less stressful the product, the more the buyer will shop for the product, the more reason for shareholders to be happy.

While the book presents some great ideas on marketing that can be applied to every field and product from groceries to hi-tech technology, I think that it is difficult to get beyond the verbose language and boring format of the book. If you do get past this, however, the ideas are interesting and useful.

Happy Reading!