Marketing of High Tech Brands

Last week, I read La grande mutation des marques high-tech (The great mutation of high tech brands) by Francois Laurent (marketing manager at Thomson. This book is not about ergonomy and interaction-design, it's mostly about marketing. The premise of the book (in french) is that traditional marketing methods are no longer efficient with high tech brands. The reason why they are inoperant is because technology innovation have to face 2 problems:

  • people do not buy so much technology because of the fast obsolescence.
  • the systems are too difficult to use (example: VCR)

After developing on various socio-cultural/economic changes (like the effect of p2p on culture consumption, linux... open source software), the author advocates for a new methology based both on soap companies (focus group and blablabla to better understand the activity/needs/thoughts of end-users which nobody thought about when designing the remote control of a VCR) and on a sociological watch. This is the crux issue: being aware of fast sociological changes in various groups. He concludes with a proposal: doing "Consumer Insight" research (in "Consumer Insights Lab"): to put it shortly it's to understand how people live, their activities... and this should be discussed by engineers, marketing people, interaction designers, ergonomists, sociologists, psychologists. It's also about encouraging people working on developing product to talk to each other (even to people in other compabies and research lab). Well we're in an age of "networked R&D" so the trend seems to propagate even in french books about marketing.

The book is interesting for different reasons. To me, since I don't know that much about marketing, I learnt some relevant stuff (like the differences between high tech brands and soap companies or how a company like thomson does). The description of the sociological changes is nice because it's given from the point of view of a marketing person but it's so classical that I found it a bit redundant with some many other books recently released. Finally the main contribution of the book is great and relevant: high tech products' potential buyers and customers should be taken into account in the developement process so that the failure of WAP or Betamax will not happen again. Of course, from my point of view it's not groundbreaking (because I deal with that issue everyday) but for people who read book of marketing or technology developers, this is crucial. It's clearly a step in this momentum about "end-user" studies. I had pleasure reading it.