February 04, 2008

The Irony of a USP

Electronics and Convergence
The consumer electronics space is ridden with attempts at convergence. All companies are building more features into existing products and hope to charge more. There are 2 schools of thought, one which favours convergence and the other which says that marketing has always been about segmentation, products will always be more divergent than convergent.

The iPod is a divergent device, while the iPhone is convergent. Is it reasonable to assume that there will be a time when the iPod will be completely subsituted by the iPhone or devices similar to the iPhone?

The consumer loves convergence. Just ask a jogger and he would tell you how sunglasses with an mp3 player are god's gift to mankind.

Marketer has no clue
The marketer is clearly confused. He has designed a great convergence device, with a 100 functions, but the laws of marketing force him to convey just one USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

What happens when the ideal convergence product is created? How will it be communicated. Nokia has attempted to communicate that the Nokia N95 is "Not one thing, but many". Does that statement create trust in the product, does anyone realize what the product can do?

Convergent devices mean different things to different people, and choosing just one route to sell the product could prove sub optimal.

Companies and Online Marketing - Is it about Adwords alone
It brings me to the issue of how these companies market online. The reason this question begs to be answered is that the online medium is where you can engage the consumer and interact with them. It is also the only medium where the consumer actively seeks information and it can be delivered to him. In other words, this is the only medium, where more than one USP can be communicated with ease.

Currently companies are stuck with buying adwords, creating banner ads and hope to redirect consumers onto their site or partner sites to buy. Most of the adwords work only when the consumer has made a decision to buy and is searching for where to buy. It does not influence his buying decision, it only aids his buying process by simplifying it.

How can the marketer move beyond unidimensional communication to creating a group of followers of the brand, who speak and influence fellow buyers more than the marketer himself. It is possible on the internet, and there are brands who have achieved it. But the effort involved in building brands online is much more than just creating an ad and uploading it on youtube (which is probably what a number of companies call innovation on the internet).

Marketing Online and managing People on the Web
Is marketing becoming more about managing people, than managing a brand? Manage people online, who will sell the brand in more ways than you can, who derive greater meaning from your brand than what the marketer projects.

It might mean a techtonic shift in how resources are deployed by companies. There could be huge teams dedicated to just the internet, who actively participate in various forums to educate consumers about the product and influence word of mouth for the brand. The age of unidimensional communication might just become history, and with it all rules of conventional marketing


daksh said...

Great thoughts Ishwar!

Loved the way you've addressed the topic. Keep blogging.

Ishwar said...

Thanks for the encouragement, I really do have to get myself blogging more regularly. Your comment helps

Nirav said...

Good Stuff!

Anonymous said...


I show this in class..Barry has some excellent points on hyper-choice..which exists across products as well as within products..this is the consumer decision-making end of the argument?


Anonymous said...

Hey this is a topic I keep revisiting in my mind everyday! Keep blogging more insights :)

~Savita (IIMB batch of 2006)