Digital Marketing Centric Product Development Process –
The internet has brought in a new height of suppleness to the product development process. Among many digital companies, two vital beliefs are very much prevalent – “Learn as you go” and “Sense and Respond.” The internet has given rise to a new height of form of products and services.
Flexible product development process is envisaged upon coordinated work and a modular action, which lows promise to an ultimate design formation till last achievable instant. Digitally, a streamlined product development process includes five steps below:
Fig 1: Product Development process over Digital Platform
But before we go further, we need to shed some lights on some basic building blocks that actually define three major sides of a product.
- Core Benefit: The core benefit is the most basic or main value offered by the product. In respect of a mobile phone, the core benefit is communication that includes calling and sending text messages. Nevertheless, core benefit is not the point of differentiation that a buyer uses to differentiate between the products.
- Basic Product: By basic product minimum product offerings are meant. For a mobile phone, calling, sending messages, search, call log, calendar, clock, alarm, and calculator are known as basic product functionalities. Basic products are different from each other by how well they cater to different customer needs.
- Augmented Product: This goes beyond the minimum expectations of buyers. Through augmentation, a product is differentiated from the competitors’ products. The customer expectations predominantly distinguish between the augmented and basic products subject to a particular market, and sometimes upon the country. In case of mobile, Bluetooth, additional memory, Multimedia, Social Networking, Wi-Fi connectivity, FM Radio, Camera, and Mobile Apps are all example of augmented product features; each one improvises the value of the main product (i.e., mobile).
Several factors are taken into consideration while creating the augmentation strategy for a product. Price is deemed to be the first aspect; for every augmentation to the basic product, the additional cost is added.
Fig 2: Product Value Hierarchies
Product Development Career Model
Product encompasses items, such as tangible goods, services, ideas, people, and places. All of these can be marketed on the internet. The product development career model is explained in the given diagram below. At the center, the core and basic services exist. Outside of this, there is a competitive service provided by the manufacturer. This is equally applicable and important for services as well, e.g., travel services, etc.
Fig 3: Perfect Model Product on the Web
For instance, eBay’s business model can be explained:
Create and maintain a person-to-person business community in which
- Buyers and sellers can promptly and uninterruptedly trade information and goods
- Act as a facilitator that supports trading
- Create an aggressive trading surrounding with conviction and security programs, economic and suitable services, and sturdy community similarity
- Spin around three profit centers: The domestic business, the international business, and payments
Product augmentation on the Web can happen in various ways and at different times. Amazon e-tailor always gives a series of services, including proposal, electronic coupons, complementary product sales, and information.
Whenever a customer logs in any e-commerce site, so many uncalled and unpaid services are duly given to him to enrich his buying experience. And consumers are actually getting those accompanying services, and they are very much used to those services without even paying for them. So, vendors find it challenging in cases where customers have begun to look forward to getting those services by default on any product purchase.
Gradually, many augmented products have become the basic product today since the extra services that customers used to get with the augmented products are available with the basic product development process. For example, before buying any mobile phone customers first judge through e-tailor the relevant competitive advantages of buying a specific mobile phone. And every company tries to add extra functionalities with an expectation to be reckoned unique in the brand game. Infinite qualities are available with each of these mobiles, and the notion of potential product development process is day-by-day changing.
In order to be able to be effectively competitive, the online e-tailers should present a host of services that go with the product development process, and ultimately these added features constitute the final product. But all the companies are not equally viable in respect of human resources, technology, and cost. Some products perform well as compared to other products.
In this connection, it is imperative to mention the branding exercises. The brand is an image when seen from outside. A brand is your strength, reliability, and your reputation. A brand is neither a name nor a positioning statement. It is not even a marketing message. It is a promise or proposition posed by a company for its target audience, and it should be maintained by that company. The success of a brand solely depends on the consumer perception of identifying it as unique. And this would help the company differentiate from other brands. Online branding is building that personal niche in the customers’ psyche. It is the total effect that creates an unforgettable uniqueness.
Fig 4: Brand Relationship Power
The organizational viewpoint is establishing the branding in the online atmosphere in the following ways: web page message capability, combining branding and marketing communications across diverse online channels, setting up of company value propositions, using brands as search key strings, connecting and improving the brand positions and globalization, and increasingly involve public sector with the branding.
Some key themes are operational in this case: customer control, customization, customer rapports, self-help qualities of the medium, emphasis on experience, and the chance given by m-commerce to modernize the branding experience.
The following stages of the online brand development strategy are relevant:
- The brand context
- The brand objectives and message
- The brand specification
- Brand design
- The websites and other communications utilizing the brand
- The brand promotion
- The brand experience
- Brand evaluation and review
The achievement of Google, Yahoo, and MSN shows how a new and totally online product can utilize internet properties and build a booming brand. A brand is not just a trade name or logo, but the emotional attachment of the customers with the brand; in the proper product development process this factor has to be understood very well, and an intelligent marketer must strike this note in the beginning while product development process.
The following areas of digital product development process have been impacted by internet:
Constant Consumer Interaction: Every product development career phase must combine an in-depth plan to encourage customer feedback because it is the benefit that every company sells, not the product. So, all products, irrespective of different turns, such as market conditions, customer expectations, and business ups and downs, should be well-thought in respect of the existing and potential customer needs and continue to garner consistent customer feedback. The Internet is the only medium for this kind of steady communication as it is instant, cheap, and very much interactive.
Product Design and Communication Devices: Given a massive progress in internet technology, a rapid product development takes place in the form of internet tools, such as 3D presentations and video conferencing.
Testing of Products: Companies can take full benefit of the concurrent market data through the advent of computer-supported design, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and other sophisticated technologies. For product testing, digital surveys are really useful. One can easily test the real efficacy of the product by conducting an online consumer survey; a majority of marketing experiments can take place.
Customer Assisted Product Design:
The products must be able to satisfy customer needs and give them delight in every way it could. So, a product must have the relevant qualities that can finally help the customer solve their problems (if any). But for that information on customer needs and desires is of utmost importance.
We all know customers are the final releasing point for a product (i.e., they are the ultimate users of the product). On the other hand, a customer knows the downside and shortcomings in the product design. It is the customer who can give an honest feedback (if properly asked) regarding a product; the product features can be consequently improved to meet the customer needs if we pay heed to what all the potential customers added about a product.
So many companies involve their target prospects and seek advice while in times of evaluating the products.
Microsoft and many other software companies encourage the user to report bugs in the software. This would ultimately help them come up with software that has no or least bugs. Both the company and the customers would heave a sigh of relief – the customer would have a perpetual reliance on the product, increasing the brand equity, and the company will be able to start the testing of next phase of product development career. How does such liaison of customer-and-company take place? The answer is mostly online. Dell computers also get customers engaged while in times of new product development career and in cases where they test the performance of a newly-launched product.
In another case, Software Development can be outsourced. So many software developers welcome their target customers to download the beta version of the software and use those for a certain time period so that the customers can share their experience on the viability of software. In this connection, it is mandatory to mention many software modules are downloadable online, and those can be customized by the customers.
Netscape, having set the objectives of improving their internet browser, offered the internet users to download free for the testing reason. After six months of important customer feedback, they were ready with the next version. On the other hand, LEGO toy maker invited their customers to download the free software version for building the virtual LEGO designs. Consumers afterward uploaded their designs in the LEGO gallery.
Many authors uploaded the drafts of their new books in the blogs and invited the readers to read and comments. Depending on the honest comments, they made subsequent changes in the books.
Smart marketers always search for innovative and creative ideas on the internet and, in this mission, set their own blogs to bag customer ideas and suggestions. Customer referrals and giving commissions are equal to Mouse Click Payment and word-of-mouth is transcended to Word-of-Mouse in the digital marketing.
In many cases, the important product features and variations stand imminent, and this a successful marketer understands beforehand and act upon responsively for the sake of the better exposure in the market.
Some key variants are to be taken care of:
- Manufacturing limitations
- Irregularity about the customer demands
- Specific characteristics and features
- Demand in particular geographical area
Some distinctive product variants are as follows:
Bundling: In some cases, companies give various combination or bundles of products to the customers. Bundling is known as a simple way to appeal to and serve different customer segments. For example, a laptop, targeted to the student category, when sold with the pre-installed operating system (OS) and MS Office or when it is bundled with pen drive, is called a perfect example of bundling. Bundling is very common in different supermarkets and malls.
Complementary Products: Some products are of very little use unless the complementary products are available with them, these are complementary products. Complementary products include basic functionality, added features, tools, and/or other augmentation that enhance the value of the main product, for instance, Mobile and SIM card, Laptop and Anti Virus or OS, etc. IBM, Wipro, HCL, and Dell add so many complementary products in the software area so that the users favor the software and choose the hardware. Consumers can get information about the complementary products and existing offers over the internet.
Aggregated Product Demand: In the digital age, marketing of the products that have limited profitability, if marketed to the restricted geographic areas or through distributing channels needing greater volume, has become lucrative as the internet is spread across the globe.
New Product Offering:
So many new concepts are being developed in the digital world, such as YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. These were largely used for social networking that is now used majorly for creating different marketing strategies. Companies, big, small, and start-ups, are resorting to utilizing the open access of these social networking sites to establish their brimming marketing needs and reach the target prospects. They spend millions on these social platforms.
Other examples are Vblogs (video blogs). People use these effective mediums to present new and modified product attributes.
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM):
The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) manufactures products or parts that are bought by a company and retailed under the buying company’s brand name. Originally used in the 1960s and 70s as the value-added resellers, OEM is extensively used in Japan, Korea, and China.
The prevailing economies of scale for the purchasing company are working for the purchasing company that can get the products without owning the factory. The manufacturing company can also reap the advantage of low cost and can invest in the latest technique of production.
IBM reckons OEM as the manufacturer of equipment that may be marketed by another manufacturer. Oki Data and Fujitsu are the producers of Printers. Many Indian companies import the printers from this company and comprise in the product range.
There are different companies, which seek the expertise of veteran marketing professionals, and this consulting service is called third-party marketing. Also defined as third-party distributors, these firms hire knowledgeable marketing and sales professionals. These professionals work in tandem with the clients’ employees to raise the assets within the distribution channels. These experts include organizational bankers, brokers, dealers, investment platforms, fiscal advisors, and high network individuals. Generally, on a commission basis, they work for the clients, but some of them, depending on their expertise, charge a moderate fee out of the total value of the assets raised. The proper evaluation of third-party offering is done through whether they are able to raise the assets as per what they targeted.
In the e-mail marketing process, the third-party offering mainly ensures delivering the e-mails. Having a good relationship with all the major ISPs, the third-party offering white-listed the releasing IP addresses. Still, there are cases when the e-mails are spammed by the recipients, and IP addresses can be blacklisted. Here, the third-party marketers can easily turn around sending IPs to make certain the e-mails are delivered and get in touch with the ISP to bring back the spammed IP addresses on the whitelist.
So, we see how the internet has created a new dimension to form products and services. After identifying the market prospect and value proposition, with the help of using several factors, the product is being developed with a view to reaching the end customers. Online access makes it possible for all kinds of experimentation and product research. The open-eyed marketers would always take the chance of this situation and product development process that effectively serves the customers.
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