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.
     
Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Windows 7 Early Adopters Were Satisfied Upgraders

We've just published two new reports concerning Windows 7 adoption and satisfaction, leveraging Forrester's Consumer Technographics(R) data. 

The reports show that Windows 7 penetrated the consciousness of the market by the end of 2009, with a strong majority of US consumers aware of the product.  We also found that consumers who adopted Windows 7 in Q4 were generally very satisfied with their Windows 7 PCs. 

Perhaps the most interesting finding of the reports involves upgrade behaviors. Historically, most consumers have not upgraded their PCs with new OSes -- though Mac users and some technophile consumers have been an exception on this count.  Instead, the majority of consumers have acquired new OSes when they purchase their new PC.  These are known as "replacement cycle upgrades." 

With Windows 7, however, upgrade behavior was much stronger.  Why?  In short, Windows 7 is a thinner client program than was Windows Vista, meaning that it works well on older hardware configurations.  In the past, OSes were designed with Moore's Law as an underlying assumption -- that is, that newer PC hardware would be significantly faster and more powerful than the previous generation's hardware. Windows 7, however, is a less burdensome OS than Windows Vista.  The rise of Netbooks, the physical assets of multi-PC households, and an attachment by many consumers to their Windows XP machines all contributed to the need for a sleeker, thinner Windows OS, which Windows 7 delivered. 

Among early adopters of Windows 7, in Q4, for the first time upgrading behavior matched replacement cycle purchasing, as this Figure shows:

 

Read more

The Future Of Online Customer Experiences

My colleague on our Customer Experience team, Vice President Moira Dorsey, has written a major piece of research that I think consumer product strategists should read. 

The report, "The Future of Online Customer Experience," has huge ramifications for how not just customer experiences will work, but indeed predicts the future of most consumer computing experiences.  I urge clients to read the report itself.  Moira has blogged about her report here.

Product strategists should take away (at minimum) the core of her model, called CARS: Online (and computing experiences in general) will be Customized, Aggregated, Relevant, and Social.  Let Moira know what you think!

Why Mobile Is Hot!

Why Mobile Is Hot

We’ve been talking about mobile for 13 years, but it’s finally found its true promise in 2009. Here’s why. (Links refer to Forrester reports, which may be read by clients; non-clients can still access the Executive Summaries).


1. Devices and Networks are up to speed in an unprecedented way.

  Most US/EU consumers have the ability today to engage in mobile data activities because of:

·     Smarter phones - “The Smartphone is dead,” because most handsets in EU/US have smart characteristics like cameras, music, and video. (See The Smartphone Is Dead).

·       Faster Networks – High-speed 3G wireless capability is growing rapidly: In the US, from 32% in 2008 to 46% in 2009 and 57% in 2010. Including 2.5G, 98% of phones in 2009 and 99% in 2010 have data capabilities. (See US Mobile Forecast 2009-2014).

Read more