Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Marketing with Product Reviews

Extract from cnet review - the Nokia N900 Smartphone (click here for full review)

The good: The Nokia N900 offers a powerful mobile Web browser, plenty of storage, a 5-megapixel camera, and an ultrasharp display. It's also fast, multitasks well, and has excellent call quality. Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth, and GPS are all onboard.

The bad: The user interface isn't very intuitive. Ovi Store for the N900 isn't live yet, limiting the number of available apps, and it doesn't sync with Exchanger Server 2003. The phone is a bit bulky and not all apps work in portrait mode.

The bottom line: While it has yet to reach its full potential, the Nokia N900 is a powerful mobile device with excellent browsing capabilities and vast customization options. However, its unintuitive interface and other limitations make this a smartphone for tech enthusiasts and early adopters only.

Almost every product reviews will have something about good points, bad points and an overall recommendation. Unfortunately, I have never seen any review that gives a perfect rating without any bad points.

Even the "best smartphone" around, the iphone 4 also has it's bad points;
The bad: Multitasking entails some trade-offs, and home screen folders are limited to 12 apps. AT&T reception continues to be spotty, and you'll need a case for the best calling reception. Also, we'd prefer a 64GB model.
Next on the list of "editor's choice", the HTC Droid Incredible is not spared from bad points;
The bad: You can't use voice and data at the same time. The multimedia experience is adequate but still behind the competition.
So, why do companies continue failing to completely satisfy customer expectations? Or in this case, review-editor's expectations? Are customers expectations being totally unrealistic for current product development standards to achieve? Or current marketing research managers talking to the wrong target audience, and should include review editors in their Delphi research panels?
The task of anticipating and meeting customer's needs effectively and profitably is not getting easier. Marketers need to be updated with product development roadmaps and actively monitor the evolving needs and trends to stay ahead of the competition. A concept that is not new, but extremely useful, is participating in customers discussion forums. Again, referring to the Nokia N900, there is a powerful forum for developers and phone owners to discuss openly their post-purchase experience and expectations. (read more about the Maemo forum).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Great Products Create Ripple Effect

"I've also started stuffing papers I want to have with me through a sheet-fed scanner and moved the resulting files to the iPad as PDFs. It is like ripping CDs to get MP3s; the iPad is like an iPod for paper." - PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer

From the article caption above, we could expect a sizeable population with the same intention or thoughts to maximize their iPad experience. And this could easily create opportunities for copier machines that could easily sync with the iPad.

Consider the huge gadget products and accessories market. While they compliment the core products, it's market could be larger due to the flexibility to change designs and trends at a lower investment. With easy customization, some accessories even allow you to create team-themes. Besides offering some product protection, gadget accessories allow consumers to differentiate their products and create an identity for themselves, and take HP's tagline, "the [computer] is personal again" up a few levels.

ZAGG Inc. (a company that supplies high-end gadget products and accessories) mission statement, "ZAGG is committed to offering innovative ways to improve the relationship between people and their beloved gadgets—that they love and rely upon. We get it!"

Lifestyle Altering Products

It's interestng how some great gadgets actually influence our daily routine. But if we look carefully, it's not really the gadgets, but the marketing and brand building activities that actually breathes life into a product.

iPods could have been another very  sophisticated "walkman". But consider the impact from the product branding strategy, "Ultra-Portable MP3 Music Player Puts 1,000 Songs in Your Pocket." According to Steve Jobs, "With iPod, Apple has invented a whole new category of digital music player that lets you put your entire music collection in your pocket and listen to it wherever you go. With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again.”

The PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). While the original form and function may have evolved dramatically into surviving smartphone versions, have changed the way we take notes, and made smartphones more of a necessity. Over 150 million smartphones are sold each year, while "stand-alone" PDAs without phone functionality sell only about 3 million units per year (Wikipedia).

The classic marketing explanation of augmented product (the non-physical part of the product) and the presentation creates purpose for the product's existence and sustainability. Marketing is about meeting the needs of customers effectively and profitably, so don't just sell on the product features and specifications, but recognize what the customer needs and sell the customers solutions.

Marketing myopia as introduced by Theodore Levitt suggests a wider perspective of marketing attributes. Some common examples include positioning as transportation rather than train, energy rather than petroleum. Organizations could explore more opportunities and improve their competitive strategies if they positioned the product(s) or corporate vision creatively.

Still on the topic of walkman...
on Monday, Sony announced the end of the classic cassette tape Walkman in Japan.
(AP) Published: Tuesday October 26, 2010 MYT 8:54:00 AM

'Sony Walkman' dies aged 31
NEW YORK: The Walkman, the Sony cassette device that forever changed music listening before becoming outdated by digital MP3 players and iPods, has died. It was 31 years old.