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I heard a story on the radio recently about this heroin derivative dubbed “Krokodil” that is named thusly because it causes users’ skin to turn black or green and scaly like a crocodile, eventually eating their flesh away to the bone. If you do a Google search, you’ll be presented with all sorts of horrific images.

Needless to say, the side effects of the drug are horrifying, yet people still buy it and are repeat buyers at that. From a product marketing standpoint, it’s a pretty successful case study. Here’s why:

1. It has a targeted market

Krokodil is becoming popular amongst hardcore street drug users because it is cheaper than heroin and can be concocted using easily-attainable ingredients using home kitchen equipment. Despite the disgusting side effects, the dealers sell to the most desperate (low/no income, dire living situation) because they know these people are the most likely to buy.

2. It fulfills a need

OK, no one starts out needing drugs, but drugs address some sort of desire in the user’s life–even if it is short term and short-sighted. I’m not saying it is a good solution by any means, but in terms of the target market, it sure does the trick. In other words, it gives them what they want, i.e. to get high, to feel good, to forget.

3. It breeds loyalty

The product is so effective in meeting the needs of the consumers that they grow dependent on it. They are desperate for it, in fact. So desperate that they will do away with their moral compasses, risk life and limb (literally), and disregard any negativity associated with using. The product pretty much guarantees to kill them and they will STILL buy it! These are the most loyal consumers you’ll ever meet.

4. Low/no advertising costs

I’m guessing that the CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) for new Krokodil users is pretty low. I’m thinking that a free trial offer is all that’s needed. And once the word is out on the supplier, price, and effectiveness of the product, the news will quickly spread organically. Retention is probably a no-brainer.

I wish more brands were like drug dealers. As a consumer, I’d like brands to help me discover a way to help me feel more fulfilled in my life, have the product be so good at what it does that I develop a dependence on it, and want to recommend it to friends. Unlike Krokodil, though, I also want the product to be good for/to me. I have no need for scaly flesh-eating products, thanks very much.

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