Monday, May 4, 2009

Consumer Electronics and Adoption

Our roomate Mark just moved out and took our (his) 40" Sony HD LCD with him - which left us with no "ideal" tube (in my husband's view, anything less than 40" didn't cut it anymore).

So my hubby went on a quest for a new tube and settled (settled being a huge understatement) on the 46" new Samsung LED - which we observed in awe at Best Buy and somehow even managed to impressed me, the tv-is-the-last-resort-for-entertainment girl. By the way, if you know my husband, he's kinda cheap so we obviously purchased with a huge discount from list price.

This led to a story about how our dear friend Fan, whom I deem as a blend between an early adopter/early majority consumer, putting the LED salesperson through the Spanish Inquisition regarding the benefits of the technology over previous and next generations (ie: oLED).

This led me thinking...and reflecting back on what Geoffrey Moore talked about in his book.

Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards - How are They Motivated?
1. Early Adopters: Moore talks about these people being tech enthusiasts and visionaries and just want the core product, not a system. They are looking for radical shifts. I interpret these people to be the ones building PCs at home and just need critical game-changing components to make things cooler (or geekier) - ie: the next cool graphics card, which they prefer to test and install themselves.
2. Early Majority: These people are more practical. They want the whole product and typically need it to solve some productivity problem or improve something.
3. Late Majority: I've forgotten Moore's definition but I think I'm usually here. Price conscious and usually requires several peers around them to adopt before trying.
4. Laggards: I'm guessing these people wouldn't otherwise purchase until it is almost free or they are forced to.

The chasm is between #1 and #2. What do we need to do to sell to the Mainstream Market? All of Moore's advice has somehow not been imprinted in my mind but I started thinking about what Fan, Ed and I actually had in common (ha!):

a. The usage model: the device enhances something we love. For TV's: Fan and Ed - watching sports in HD. For MP3 players: Me - something compact that stores my music while I run with cool fitness tracking functions (Nike+).

b. Connectors and Mavens use it (*from Malcolm Gladwell): I'm a Fitness Maven. If I find something cool like yoga, or a device that counts your steps (Sony Ericsson's Fitness feature on my W580 phone!) I will talk your ear off about it and try to convince you to try it. Jocelyn and Peter are iPhone app Mavens. I have yet to splurge on an iPhone, but this is mainly due to...

c. Price Points are Fair: I hate buying things full price. And with how quickly technology changes, there's always the fear that the prices will plummet 50% within 6 mo and you regretting your purchase (which is what I feared with our new TV). What's fair is subject to considerable discussion but depends on competition and perceived value. Note the word PERCEIVED. Marketing people are suppose to be the genius behind creating value, but what exactly is it made of? Aside from features - i would say, brand equity, long-term sustenance, how it makes life easier, faster, happier, more efficient.
d. Social Responsibility: I'm not sure which one of our technology loving friends actually feels a true sense of responsibility here, but at all former employees of Intel we've been taught that low power and compact form factors are the way of the future. Except that compact doesn't apply when you are talking about bigger and bigger TV's, but I deviate from the matter at hand...going back to responsibility, conservation of energy should be important to all of us.

Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards - How do you address introduction of new Disruptive Technology with these Consumers Post Purchase?
I asked Fan, the early adopter of the Sony HD LCD, how he felt about his purchase from 3 yrs back at the high price tag given today's new technologies. Apparently Sony has something in the pipeline with the oLED technology. Which tells me, that as a CE company, you better have some darn good reasons prepared on why your "antiquated" product is still superior (esp when you're talking within a year's window), you introduce some price segmentation, you introduce some trade-in programs (good luck getting these, consumers), you have something much cooler in the pipeline, or you are APPLE. [sigh] I wish I could get intot the head which is the marketing genius of Steve Jobs!

That's all for today, folks. Hubby is calling me to the tube.

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