I read this somewhere recently – I think it was the CIO of Intel, Kim Stevenson (quoting IT folklore). But it stuck in my mind, long after the link that I harvested it from had evaporated. I like it since it gets to the heart of the discussion . . . what’s the business problem you are trying to solve. So often I find myself fielding queries where the people on the other end of the phone have decided on a technological solution (a hammer), and are now looking for a problem (the right nail).
The business doesn’t want a hammer or a nail; they want something of value – the house. It’s not important that your solution has this product or that techno buzzword. They don’t care for how cute your big data credentials are, or whether your mobile mojo has trumped your social ace in the hole. These sorts of trends – big data, mobile, social – are just like, well, like the context within which the house sits.
Of course, we need that application delivered to our customers on a digital device nearby to them. Of course, we want that engagement to leverage the history of what we’ve done with that customer in the past – their wants and preferences taken into account. Of course, we want to leverage what we know others in the same context considered the right choice. But we also expect the customer to channel-hop to the Web, and then perhaps wander into a branch or store, and ring up about it to see where things are at (WISMO – what is the status of my order).
“How can you reinvent your brand to appeal to younger consumers?” This is the million-dollar question, and the contestant sitting in the hot seat is you. But don’t panic; why not use a lifeline? Ask the audience! That was the approach car manufacturer Buick recently took when designing the 2013 Encore luxury model.
Striving to portray a more fun, contemporary side of the established auto brand and win loyalty among younger consumers, Buick promoted its "Pinterest to Dashboard" contest by calling on participants to create Pinterest boards that spoke to personal styles and passions. The Buick design team selected a winning collection to become the inspiration for the interior and exterior designs of the automobile. While this new look is not yet available on the market, Buick managed to connect with younger consumers in an exciting and relevant way. Through Pinterest, the company engaged 10 extremely influential bloggers (the winner of the competition has nearly 4 million Pinterest followers), dozens of lifestyle editors from media and publication companies, and millions of Pinterest users whose online responses indicated the winning pinboard.
Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data suggests that Buick certainly chose the right platform to reach its desired market. Launched only three years ago, Pinterest is currently the third-largest social media platform in the US behind Facebook and Twitter. Of those 5.5 million US online adults who use Pinterest to research products for purchase, 65% are younger than 35 and 33% have an average household income of more than $100,000.
Mass customization has been the “next big thing” in product strategy for a very long time. Theorists have been talking about it as the future of products since at least 1970, when Alvin Toffler presaged the concept. Important books from 1992 and 2000 further promoted the idea that mass customization was the future of products.
Yet for years, mass customization has disappointed. Some failures were due to execution: Levi Strauss, which sold customized jeans from 1993-2003, never offered consumers choice over a key product feature – color. In other cases, changing market conditions undermined the business model: Dell, once the most prominent practitioner of mass customization, failed spectacularly, reporting that the model had become “too complex and costly.”
Overall, the “next big thing” has remained an elusive strategy in the real world, keeping product strategists away in droves.
But interest isn’t equally high across different consumer industries. Below, you’ll find a graphic showing the top five industries that consumers are interested in participating with for co-creation efforts.
Household technology products like PCs and TVs top the list, but CPG, home entertainment (i.e., movies and music), household appliances (i.e., washing machines and refrigerators), and small kitchen appliances follow closely. As usual, men and women have different interests: While women account for 51% of all willing co-creators, they account for a much greater share of the audience interested in co-creating with CPG companies and clothing, footwear, and small kitchen appliance manufacturers.