Great new study
out from eMarketer that made me LOL on consumer electronics.
The average American owns an estimated 25 consumer electronics, and will spend another $1,200 this year acquiring more.
Yet we're ever more perplexed by our gadgets than ever.
I call it the flashing VCR syndrome (you know, when you used to own an actual VCR, the clock was always flashing because you didn't know how to program it?)
Guilty as charged. Actually, I try to learn how to work a lot of these gadgets myself, because I suspect I'm way above average in terms of both spend and usage.
I'm a confirmed electronics junkie.
So I get madder than ---- when I buy something that's supposed to work as promised (like the iGo Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard
that I ordered last week that was supposed to allow me to do remote keyboard entry into my Blackberry, and which Friday afternoon I was ready to commit consumer electronics frustration hare kare over when I couldn't get it to work) and it doesn't work.
We marketers are apparently to blame. We sell you all on this stuff by "hyping [our] complex technology" but clearly don't do a very good job of explaining it all.
I think IBM is guilty as charged, also. That's not for want of trying.
You'd be surprised at the endless conversations we have about how to best position and relate the business value of our products, as well as their feature/functionality. But of course, everybody has an opinion about how to best go about doing so, and the best ones don't always win.
I suggest we develop a new science, one called "user-centric marketing." We envision Dilbert in our minds-eye as we go about developing a new product or service, and unless we think Dilbert can explain the product effectively and sell it to his inept management staff, then the product can't get a GA date.
Meanwhile, some other tidbits from the study:
Implications for Manufacturers and Marketers
- $1.9B: The amount spent on online advertising by consumer-electronics makers in the U.S. last year (that included display, paid search, and rich media ads)
- 77%: The percent of people who researched electronics purchases online before buying (the same percentage for which later made their purchase in a brick-and-mortar store. Online/Offline retail synergy, anybody? Mobile marketing opportunity, perhaps?
- 65%: Percent of households in the U.S. that have broadband Internet access by end of 2007 (And expected to reach 90% by 2011)
- 91%: Percent of consumers who thought it important for online retailers to have complete product information (But keep an eye on that online channel play: Only 55% said they would go directly to the manufacturer's site if it wasn't available at an online store...I have data that would suggest the number is much higher, however, for B2B purchases).
- 83%: Percent of "advocates" who recommended a recent electronics purchase to a friend (Read Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" to better understand the impact of human-to-human influence)
There are huge implications of this study for both manufacturers and marketers.
Number one, make your products easier to use.
That's one of the best sales tools known to mankind. Remember, if Dilbert can explain it to his boss, you're well on your way to a high usability quotient, which means more Dilbert pellets for everyone.Number two, clearly communicate the value of and key benefits to using your product or service.
Increasingly, this means ensuring the online experience takes full and intelligent advantage of the interactive experience that only two-way communications can provide. Put that boring data sheet in the drawer, and head back to the drawing board to figure out how you can bring that product to life.
Remember, 77% of those folks are researching their purchases online first. It doesn't matter one whit where they're making the purchase, but it matters greatly what's most influencing those purchases (both your Web site and online retailers' sites are critical).Number three, identify how you can better leverage and tap into the power of social networking to help your customers help one another.
You don't have to have all the answers. The real power behind social media lies in finding intelligent ways to empower your customers via your own Website so that they can converse with one another. Derivative benefits: Savings in online tech support, as well as the positive halo such an experience creates for your brand.Finally, try to create some synergies between the on- and offline experience.
What can you do to better facilitate in-store comparison shopping using mobile devices? What is your couponing or related merchandising strategy that compels the online shopper to visit your store (how about allowing the online consumer to create an in-person interview with a sales specialist in their area [think Apple genius for consumer retail] live and in person?
Again, the purchase may or may not be made online...but it most certainly will be influenced by the online experience.
Who has time to walk through all those Big Box electronics retail stories, anyhow?
Well, maybe Dilbert, but he's a cartoon character.[Read More