Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'm Passionate, So Why Are You Offering OK?

Stimulated, as ever, by a post from Seth Godin, I can reassert my believe that the product is the most important and disruptive P of marketing. I agree wholeheartedly with his implicit call to "launch products or services that are adored by part of your audience and not liked one bit by the rest", though I would have put it at number 1 in his list.

It reminded immediately of the story I heard some years ago about the leap of faith taken by the chairman of, I believe, Toyota. (Is it just me or is there a developing motif of half-remembered anecdotes in this blog?)

Anyway, the company’s management was faced with a new design for a SUV that had been market tested and was being recommended for rejection because something like 27% of the respondents had hated it - the worst reaction they'd ever had. There was a consensus in favour of following what the research seemed to be saying, but the chairman saw a different message by noting that something like 19% of respondents raved about the design. He ignored the visceral and numerically larger reaction of those who had hated it and realised that the proportion who really loved the design was actually greater than the proportion of the automobile market represented by the SUV segment. He insisted on going ahead and the product became the biggest selling vehicle in the sector.

People who love your product/service will adopt it; people who hate or don’t get it weren’t necessarily going to be customers in the first place. Moreover, they may actually come round to the idea of being customers as they hear the conversations of the highly satisfied customers as Malcolm Gladwell has recounted in respect of the Aeron chair and much more.

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