Monday, October 6, 2008

Marketing for "Individualism" vs. Word-of-Mouth for "Mass Production"

I worked on developing IP and technologies for Procter & Gamble's breakthrough and game changing word-of-mouth marketing ventures - Tremor and VocalPoint. See details here and further links.

While browsing my friend and colleague Franz Dill's blog on WOM here, it has occured to me that the viral marketing space is going to find itself at slight odds when the consumer becomes more educated, with more choice and is interested in a product that "fits their" needs. See another blog by Franz here on WOM.

WOM is still playing at the head of the demand curve (Click here to read about the Long Tail). Yet, the world has moved on from mass production to mass customization to the 21st century where indivudalized products / services will come to be. See my related blogs extrapolating this further into the concept I call "Tail Spike" here and here.

Influencers and influenced masses are a key to developing WOM push and pull marketing strategies and tactics. Yet, a new burgeoning class of "choice devisors" is coming into being. Perhaps it has always existed and we are now discovering it. These are the folks who are not influenced, they do not care to influence... yet, they are creating and devising the new / next generation of product / service that will be used by the mutually inclusive class of masses mentioned earlier.

A leading work currently under way that looks at these "choice devisors" is the work of Dr. Eric Von Hippel, Dr. Christoph Hienerth (bio & current) and Dr. Marion Potz around "Lead User" concept.

Lead User work is facinating and I plan to publish more in the near future with Dr. Hienerth's and Dr. Potz's guidance. For now, here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

"Lead user is a term developed by Eric von Hippel in 1986. His definition for lead user is:

  1. Lead users face needs that will be general in a marketplace – but face them months or years before the bulk of that marketplace encounters them, and
  2. Lead users are positioned to benefit significantly by obtaining a solution to those needs

In other words: Lead users are users of a product that currently experience needs still unknown to the public and who also benefit greatly if they obtain a solution to these needs."

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