As we discuss in our What is Marketing? tutorial, success in marketing almost always requires marketers offer customers something that they genuinely want. What is really wanted may be related to any of the Marketing Mix decisions. That is, maybe customers want certain features in a product (i.e., product decision), or maybe they want a more affordable product (i.e., pricing decision), or a special deal that will persuade them to make a purchase (i.e., promotion decision), or they want to be able to receive the product faster (i.e., distribution decision),or maybe they need help learning how to use a product (i.e., support services decision). As these examples suggest, the features offered in a product are not the only factors that affect how customers decide on what to buy.
Yet, while a customer's purchase decision is impacted by many other issues, the features and overall product design are often the most critical. That is what is so compelling about with this Washington Post story. In particular, the story discusses how the design of several children’s products, that include video displays, are being criticized. What is so interesting about this story is that the criticism is not coming from the marketers’ main customer, parents, but from a non-profit child advocacy group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC). The group is concerned that exposing young children to digital screens is, in effect, shifting childcare away from parents and to a digital device. The advocacy group is pushing companies selling such devices to remove these from the market. The companies targeted by CCFC include Fisher Price, who offers a bouncy chair with an iPad attached, and CTA Digital, who markets a potty that includes a tablet computer.
The reaction to these types of products has led to many negative reviews on retailer websites, including Amazon, though the comments are likely not from product purchasers but from CCFC supporters. Of course, this leads to another marketing issue regarding the effectiveness of website comments, but we will save that for another post.
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