Forrester's Marketing Forum 2011: Innovating Your Marketing For The Next Digital Decade

We're only a couple weeks away from Forrester's Marketing Forum 2011, April 5-6 in San Francisco, California. (You can view the event details and sign up to attend here). The theme is "Innovating Your Marketing For The Next Digital Decade," which will help attendees navigate the rapidly changing world of digital experiences. Rapid innovation is creating radical shifts in the methods and media that people use to engage with your company, brand, and products. From connected TVs to Microsoft's Xbox Kinect to tablet PCs to mobile-based location awareness, the panoply of emerging platforms and techniques gives powerful new means of creating rich product experiences and engaging with your customers.

For Consumer Product Strategy professionals, we've focused our sessions around a research theme called Total Product Experience. Developed by the amazing James McQuivey, the Total Product Experience thesis is that digital channels are no longer being used just to deliver marketing messages. Instead, they are swiftly being enlisted to simulate and stimulate product trial and use. Already, using Kinect for Xbox, marketers can enable you to kick the virtual tires of a car; tomorrow, with a tablet PC app, marketers will let you take pictures of yourself and dress your own body in virtual clothes. Welcome to the Era of Experience, a time in which product strategists and product marketers must collaborate to deepen the digital customer relationship and extend the total product experience to create value.

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POST: Refining Your Strategy For iPads and Tablets -- The Workshop!

Are you a product strategist trying to craft an iPad (or general tablet) product strategy?  For example, are you thinking about creating an app to extend your product proposition using the iPad or other tablet computer?

At Forrester, we’ve noticed that product strategists in a wide variety of verticals – media, retail, travel, consumer products, financial services, pharmaceuticals, software, and many others – are struggling to make fundamental decisions about how the iPad (and newer tablets based on Android, Windows, webOS, RIM’s QNX, and other platforms) will affect their businesses.

To help these clients, an analyst on my team, Sarah Rotman Epps, has designed a one-day Workshop that she’ll be conducting twice, on February 8th and February 9th, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

She’ll be helping clients answer fundamental questions, such as:

  • Do we need to develop an iPad app for our product/service/website? If we don't build an app, what else should we do?
  • What are the best practices for development app products for the iPad? What are the features of these best-in-class app products?
  • Which tablet platforms should we prioritize for development, aside from the iPad?
  • Which tablets will be the strongest competitors to the iPad?
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Why Product Strategists Should Embrace Conjoint Analysis

Aside from my work with product strategists, I’m also a quant geek. For much of my career, I’ve written surveys (to study both consumers and businesses) to delve deeply into demand-side behaviors, attitudes, and needs. For my first couple of years at Forrester, I actually spent 100% of my time helping clients with custom research projects that employed data and advanced analytics to help drive their business strategies.

These days, I use those quantitative research tools to help product strategists build winning product strategies. I have two favorite analytical approaches: my second favorite is segmentation analysis, which is an important tool for product strategists. But my very favorite tool for product strategists is conjoint analysis. If you, as a product strategist, don’t currently use conjoint, I’d like you to spend some time learning about it.

Why? Because conjoint analysis should be in every product strategist’s toolkit. Also known as feature tradeoff analysis or discrete choice, conjoint analysis can help you choose the right features for a product, determine which features will drive demand, and model pricing for the product in a very sophisticated way. It’s the gold standard for price elasticity analysis, and it offers extremely actionable advice on product design.  It helps address each of “the four Ps” that inform product strategies.

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Benchmark Your Job Responsibilities Against Peers

Consumer product strategists hold a wide variety of job titles: product manager, product development manager, services manager, or a variation of general manager, vice president, or even, sometimes, CEO or other C-level title. Despite these varying titles, many of you share a great number of job responsibilities with one another.

We recently fielded our Q4 Global Consumer Product Strategy Research Panel Online Survey to 256 consumer product strategy professionals from a wide variety of industries. Why do this? One reason was to better understand the job responsibilities that you, in your role, take on every day. But the other reason was to help you succeed: By benchmarking yourself against peers, you can identify new job responsibilities for growth, improve your effectiveness, and ultimately advance your career.

What did we find out? The bottom line is that consumer product strategy jobs are pretty tough. We found a wide range of skills are required to do the job well, since consumer product strategists are expected to:

  • Drive innovation. Consumer product strategists are front-and-center in driving innovation, which ideally suffuses the entire product life cycle. Being innovative is a tall task, but all of you are expected to be leaders here.
     
  • Think strategically... You've got to have a strategic view of your markets, identifying new concepts and business models and taking a long-term view of tomorrow's products.
     
  • ...but execute as a business person. While thinking strategically, you generally have to execute tactically as well. You're business unit owners. At the senior-most levels, you hold the P&L for the product or portfolio of products.
     
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Join Forrester's New Community For Consumer Product Strategists!

I'd like to invite you to participate in an exciting new forum for discussion: our community for Consumer Product Strategy professionals!

The community is a place for product strategists to exchange ideas, opinions, and real-world solutions with each other. Forrester analysts will also be part of the community, helping facilitate the discussions and sharing their views.

Right now, we already have discussions going on the topics of product co-creation, creating video content for your product or brand, and the effects disruptive technologies like the iPad have on product strategies. These vibrant conversations are just getting started, but they're already pretty exciting discussions.

In general, here's what you’ll find

  • A simple platform on which you can pose your questions and get advice from peers who face the same business challenges.
  • Insight from our analysts, who weigh in frequently on the issues. 
  • Fresh perspective from peers, who share their real-world success stories and best practices.
  • Content on the latest technologies and trends affecting your business — from Forrester and other thought leaders

I encourage you to become part of the community:

  • Ask a question about a complex business problem.
  • Start a discussion on an emerging trend that’s having an impact on your work.
  • Contribute to an existing discussion thread from a community member.
  • Suggest topics for upcoming Forrester research reports.
  • Create a community profile.
  • Share your perspective with others.

The community is open to both Forrester clients AND to non-clients.  Why not visit today? 

http://community.forrester.com/community/cps

New Report: Designing An Empowered Mobile Product Strategy

Forrester’s new book, Empowered, (which is free for U.S. based Amazon Kindle owners from September 7 to 10!) helps companies thrive in the new era of disruptive technologies like social media and mobility. Authored by two of my amazing Forrester colleagues, Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler, Empowered tells companies to give their most innovative employees – their highly engaged and resourceful operatives, or HEROes – the permission and tools to serve customers using these same emerging technologies.

But Empowered isn’t only about employees. It also lays out a strategy for engaging your most influential customers. Consumer product strategy professionals should wield Empowered concepts for exactly that reason – to energize your best customers. In the mobile space, product strategists are looking for ideas to help them develop innovative, leading-edge applications for Smartphone users on platforms like the iPhone or Android. So we’ve just released a report to help product strategists do just that, called “Designing A Mobile Empowered Product Strategy.” It applies ideas from Empowered to product strategy, and includes numerous case studies of mobile applications that exemplify Empowered approaches.

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When Consumers Want To Share Products

Product strategists should check out this article in today’s New York Times about online borrowing.  Think of it as a Web-empowered peer-to-peer product rental program. The article describes how Web sites like SnapGoods allow private owners of products to rent them out for temporary periods of time to consumers who want to use – but do not (or cannot) own – those same products. It’s a product rental marketplace, smaller than but resembling a product sales marketplace (like eBay).

This peer-to-peer product rental approach to sharing complements another sharing technique that has been around for a while: timesharing. Vacationers who own 1/8 of a condominium in the Bahamas get to use it part of the time, as do their fellow timeshare partners. More recently, the Web enabled Zipcar to grow to over 275,000 users by 2009. Zipcar users make reservations to use vehicles in their neighborhoods on an hourly basis.

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Office 2010 Will Continue To Succeed With Consumers

Many product strategists are, like me, old enough to remember software stores like Egghead. Those days are gone. Today, consumer packaged software represents a very limited market – the software aisle has shrunk, like the half-empty one at the Best Buy in Cambridge, MA (pictured).

 

Only a few packaged software categories still exist: Games. Utilities and security software. And Microsoft Office – which constitutes a category unto itself. Some 67% of US online consumers regularly use Office at home, according to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics PC And Gaming Online Survey, Q4 2009 (US). Office is the most ubiquitous – and therefore successful – consumer client program aside from Windows OS.

Office 2010, Microsoft’s latest release, will continue to succeed with consumers. On the shoulders of Office 2010 rests nothing less than the defense of packaged software in general. It’s also the most tangible example of Microsoft’s Software Plus Services approach to the cloud – a term that Microsoft seems to be de-emphasizing lately, but which captures the essence of the Office 2010 business goal:

To sell packaged client software and offer Web-based services to augment the experience.

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Why Windows 7 Needs A Hit Tablet

Sarah Rotman Epps and I have just published a new report: “The Windows 7 Tablet Imperative.” Dell gained some publicity this week with its release of the 5-inch, Android-based Dell Streak device – but that device has more in common with mobile Smartphones (or even the iPod Touch) than it does with the iPad.

What we’re watching closely is the next generation of tablet PCs – larger form factor devices that make up a fourth PC form factor. Regardless of OS – the iPad itself runs iPhone OS, but we see it as a PC – these tablets will be used by consumers for media, gaming, light communications, and casual computing in new rooms in the home.   

To compete with the iPad, these devices must embrace Curated Computing as their design approach – tablets that work exactly like laptops don’t make sense.  Without Curated Computing, a tablet would take away features (keyboard, mouse) while not fundamentally tailoring the user experience to the tablet form factor.

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Why Will Consumers Pay More (For A Mac)?

Product strategists struggle with the issue of value all the time: What constitutes a revenue-maximizing price for my product, given the audience I’m targeting, the competition I’m trying to beat, the channel for purchase, and the product’s overall value proposition?

There are tools like conjoint analysis that can help product strategists test price directly via consumer research. However, there’s a bigger strategic question in the background: How can companies create and sustain consistently higher prices than their key competitors over the long term?

The Mac represents a good case study for this business problem. Macs have long earned a premium over comparable Windows PCs. Though prices for Macs have come down over time, they remain relatively more expensive, on average, than Windows-based PCs. In fact, they’ve successfully cornered the market on higher-end PCs: According to companies that track the supply side, perhaps 90% of PCs that sold for over $1,000 in Q4, 2009 were Macs.

Macs share common characteristics with Windows PCs on the hardware front – ever since Apple switched to Intel processors about four years ago, they’ve had comparable physical elements. But the relative pricing for Macs has remained advantageous to Apple. At the same time, the Mac has gained market share and is bringing new consumers into the Mac family – for example, about half of consumers who bought their Mac in an Apple Store in Q1, 2010 were new to the Mac platform. So Apple is doing something right here – providing value to consumers to make them willing to pay more.

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