- Published: September 25, 2013
Yesterday we discussed the idea of the Product Life Cycle (PLC). Another concept tied closely to the PLC, are the product adopter categories. As we discuss here, people tend to adopt new products at different times. Some, like those in the Innovator category, are extremely early in wanting to try new things, while those in the Late Majority category will take a wait-and-see approach before trying something new.
Then there are the Laggards, they may never adopt a new product or will only do so if they have no other choice. This research report, from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, presents an outstanding example of why there are Laggards. In this study, Pew sought to find out why people are not using the Internet. Some people may find it quite surprising that 15% of Americans claim they do not use the Internet at all and another 9% only use it at work. The reasons for not using the Internet include such issues as: difficulty using; lack of interest for what is found on it; expense; and inability to access due to a physical condition.
For marketers, the results should not only be viewed as just interesting statistics. What is learned from this research may actually provide insight that will allow marketers to target some of these people. How? By using methods, such as product design and unique promotional messages, that aim to address the reasons that are cited for not using the Internet.
- Published: September 24, 2013
Nearly all product marketers will tell you promotion sells products but product design makes a legendary business. For an innovative company to withstand competitors that are relentless in their efforts to undercut a company’s market (generally by offering similar products at lower prices), they must produce products that are truly different in some way. Sometimes they can do this by including a distinctive feature that no one else has. Or maybe they can do it with unusual packaging that catches everyone’s attention. Or maybe they are able to cram many different features into a small box. Whatever it is, high-end companies need to remain innovative if they want to continue to earn healthy profits by selling at prices that generally are considered premium.
But how does a company do this? What does an innovative company act like? The October 2013 Fast Company magazine offers insights into this questions. It includes several excellent stories that marketers should read. Sure, many of the people discussed are not even marketers. But their views on product design and their ways of doing business provide good lessons for creating products that can offset low-price competitors.
- Published: September 20, 2013
Who would have believed small booksellers can compete against the likes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble? Well, the small bookstore owners have always felt they could, if only they could figure out how. Well, it seems they have done just that. Despite doom-and-gloom predictions from just about everyone, independent bookstores are surviving and, in some cases, thriving. Sure they suffered for many years, and a large number went out of business.
Yet, as discussed in this Fortune story, many book retailers are doing better because they followed basic marketing principles by first finding out what customers wanted and then offering it to them. In this case, they learned that their customer base will shop there more often if they feel a connection to the store. Retailers have responded by building a sense of community by offering more events, such as author readings and lectures.
They have also learned customers want more product options at these stores resulting in an expansion of their offerings including adding new product categories, such as greeting cards, and new services, such as adding cafes.
- Published: September 23, 2013
If you are looking for a good example of how the Product Life Cycle (PLC) works, then check out this story from USA Today. The focus is on the craft beer market, and all signs in this market suggest it is following the classic PLC model.
As an industry, we should actually view this as a second coming. As the story notes, craft breweries have been around for hundreds of years and in the U.S. had topped over 2,000 way back in the 1880s. Of course, Prohibition changed that, and it was not until the 1990s that we see what we now refer to as the craft beer market truly starts to grow.
As we note in our PLC tutorial, market growth will always attract competitors and that is clearly the case now with over 2,500 breweries currently operating.
But as PLC theory also teaches us, this market cannot continue to grow. A shakeout is on the way. When that will happen is anyone’s guess, though it is reasonable to assume that 10 years from now the U.S. will likely have far less than 2,500 craft breweries.
- Published: September 19, 2013
One marketing decision that often is overshadowed by more glamorous aspects, such as product design and advertising, is that involving product labeling. As we note in this tutorial, labeling typically involves the imprinting of information on product packaging or, in some cases, on the product itself (e.g., sticker on an apple).
While this area of marketing may not capture a high level of marketers’ enthusiasm, it is something that can receive significant attention from customers, government regulators and non-profit groups. For instance, an issue with labeling is raised in this story where the value of expiration dates that appear mostly on food and drug products is questioned.
According to this story, the dating that appears in the form “use by” or “sell by” or “best by” dates is often misleading and the groups researching this issue, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, claim customers are clearly confused. The result, they say, is that customers end up spending more because they are trashing products well before it goes bad. Because of this, these groups recommend changing how these labels are presented including changing “sell by” dating so only retailers can see it and creating a uniform dating system to apply to nearly all products.