Inventions That Were Accidents (Forbes)

New Product Developed by AccidentIn order to sustain growth in the face of stiff competition, most companies find they have little choice but to continually find new products.  For some companies, this means looking for products outside the organization, such as by purchasing or licensing products created by other companies.  However, for the vast majority of firms, the search for new products is an ongoing internal process requiring a collaborative effort involving potentially hundreds of employees from different functional areas such as research and development, business operations, finance, and, of course, marketing.

Yet, even with a dedicated development plan in place, most companies will discover in-house efforts for creating new products are risky.  The success rate for new product development is often quite low, with very few ideas actually reaching the testing stage.  But, some companies find failure is sometimes a good thing.  How can this be?

Phone-Wielding Shoppers Strike Fear Into Retailers (Wall Street Journal)

Consumers Use Smartphone to Research ProductsIn a previous post, we noted how consumers are becoming smarter shoppers and how technology is playing a key role.  As technology continues to advance us to having instant access to almost anything, retailers are facing a host of issues with repercussions that could change how retailing is done.  Thanks to such technologies as search engines, product rating sites and mobile devices, today’s consumers are in a far better position to assess the value of a purchase than they have ever been.  While the average consumer does not yet possess the product comparison and negotiation skills of a corporate purchasing agent, technology is helping them get closer.

From Retired Brands, Dollars and Memories (New York Times)

Old Trademarks ReturnAs noted in our Product Decisions tutorial, a well-marketed, recognizable brand can often obtain financial benefits in which the name of the brand becomes a valuable commodity.  That is, the name, exclusive of the actual product, has value.  When this happens the marketer is said to possess a product with significant brand equity.  For instance, just think how much value there is in the brand name, iPod.  Because this name is so well known, anyone using this name to sell digital music devices would realize tremendous consumer awareness.

Obviously, Apple is not about to let others use their iPod brand name.  Apple, like most marketers, is highly protective of its brand names and the equity these have created.  They control these legally by obtaining trademarks and enforce their names by threatening lawsuits against potential violators.

Growth in Virtual Gatherings Offers Marketing Opportunities (New York Times)

Growth of Virtual Trade ShowsEvery few years a web-based business model garners attention for a unique offering that some believe will eventually be the next big thing.  In the last 10 years, such web businesses as Friendster (social networking), Webvan (grocery delivery) and NetBank (online banking) were all labeled as the next big thing only to crash under the strain of poor execution, lack of funding, bad management decisions, changing technology or a host of other factors.  Of course, other businesses would eventually learn from the mistakes made by these early entrants and turn these concepts into successful business models.

The Just-in-Time Consumer (Wall Street Journal)

Economy Forces Changes in Consumer ShoppingWith the U.S. economy showing only slight signs of moving out of the doldrums, many consumer products companies selling in the U.S. are still reeling and wondering when good times will return.   Unfortunately, once the economy is back on track some marketers may be in for a surprise.  The problem is the length of the slowed-down economy, along with continued high unemployment rates, is leading consumers to modify their buying behavior.

Over the last few years, a large number of consumers have changed how they make buying decisions.  These changes include altering the types of products they purchase, focusing more effort on finding smart bargains and reducing the quantity of product they purchase at one time.