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■a leverage the creativity of customers and cognoscenti on the edge—they can become creative partners.

The market can become a massive beta test. By prototyping the market— introducing works-in-process products into the full marketplace, as opposed to a limited test market—marketers gain the advantages of being the first/early mover; they get data based on actual reality, as opposed to simulation or sampling; and they significantly reduce research costs.

As customers become more important and more demanding, marketers are seeking to build stronger relationships with them. The technology of the Internet, in particular, is helping marketers to get to know consumers better, enabling them to develop deeper, smarter relationships with individual customers. Marketers can gather and slice up new piles of data to segment more meaningfully. Those who segment by transactional profile, concentrate research on the whole life of a customer relationship, and continually develop new multifunctional products to fit her changing needs, will increase profits and reduce customer acquisition costs.

Marketers now have the ability to research, develop, communicate, and sell on a personal, one-to-one basis, taking the axiom "It's not just what you know, but who you know," to a whole new level of meaning. Product developers have an unprecedented opportunity to meet personal needs and preferences even more with multifunctional products by enabling consumers to help design the functional and feature bundles that suit them best. And, multifunctional product marketers can now use the new scope and power of consumer research and Customer Relationship Management programs to build healthy, profitable relationships with customers on a long-term basis. If marketers can raise the level of creativity in ideation and concept development to at least the same levels of quality, it will be a multifunctional "slam dunk."

Chapter was written by Shira P. White, president and CEO of SPWI, a leading consulting firm specializing in innovation management and new product development. Inquiries and comments are welcome. SPWI, 189 West 89th Street, Suite 11C, New York, NY 10024. 212-706-0242. [email protected]

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