Are You Selling 8-Tracks in an iTunes World?

5 Questions to Ensure Your Product Offering Stays Current

With the Consumer Electronics Show, better known as CES, in full swing, you’re probably wondering why I mention 8-tracks, a form of music cassette popular in the 1960s and 1970s. As today’s companies strut their technical stuff in Las Vegas surrounded by hoopla and press hoping to capture the minds and pocketbooks of U.S. consumers with this year’s crop of new electronics, it’s a good idea to remember that the 8-track’s quadraphonic sound was at technology’s bleeding edge at one time and then it vanished almost as quickly as it appeared.

One thing’s for sure—Americans, regardless of age, love their electronic gadgets. To put this in perspective, here are a few facts about the devices Americans use and how they consume content on them.

  • Average U.S. household has 2.5 televisions. On average, Americans spend 35.6 hours per week watching television, that’s the equivalent of almost a full workweek as reported by The Nielsen Company.
  • Three out of ten of the 228 million mobile phones in the U.S. are smart phones including blackberries according to The Nielsen Company.
  • Tablet sales, including iPads, are projected to grow almost 150% this year to 24.0 million units according to eMarketer.
  • E-readers continue to drive sales. Amazon that sold over $8 million of kindles in 2010. Further, Amazon’s ebook sales reached a tipping point in July 2010 when they out numbered hardcover books.

5 Questions to keep your product offering on track

While you can still find 8-tracks players for under $5.00 on e-Bay, it’s a good bet that most listeners would prefer to buy an iTunes download with its higher quality production. Therefore as a marketer, consider which of this year’s new products will be the next iPad and which will become this year’s 8-tracks? Even more important, how will this affect your business for the next year and the next three years? Here are five questions to help you outline your plans.

  1. Is your product array in line with your prospects and customers’ needs based on the devices they currently have and those they plan to buy in the next few months?
  2. Do your products offer consumers different options based on their choice of technological devices? Does this make economic sense for your business or does your firm need to choose which technologies to support?
  3. What are you competitors offering relative to current and near term technology changes? Are they offering 8-tracks, CDs or downloads? How does your offering compare to theirs? Don’t forget to think about major retailers even if they’re not your direct competitors.
  4. What’s your price point relative to product availability? What’s your price point relative to the competition? How are your product margins? Have they diminished due to a change in availability or demand? When music CDs were first offered, there were limited production capabilities and, as a result, firms charged higher prices.
  5. Have you enhanced your product with additional support or other special add-ons that consumers want? For example, Amazon benefits from iPad sales in the form of ebook sales via their Kindle app.

As a marketer, you must continually adapt your product offering to meet current and evolving market needs, especially where technology’s concerned. Understanding which products your market wants and how you can supply them is a critical element of your planning.

What does your firm do to stay abreast of changing technologies and your customers’ needs related to them? What resources do you use to accomplish this? Please include your insights in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: MsSpider66 via Flickr

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  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman (@margieclayman)

    That’s a really great analogy, Heidi.

    As marketers, it’s of the utmost importance to stay on top of, well, everything. Everything affects you because marketing is the business of people. You have to know what people are doing, how people are looking for and digesting information, and what will be the next hot thing.

    This is a facet of marketing that I think a lot of companies and people miss – it’s also why writing a marketing blog can be challenging. Everything is relevant. Everything needs to be examined and explored.

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Margie–

      I agree many businesses miss opportunities that are in front of them due to how they view their market versus how their customers and competitors approach the market. Many times, I’ve seen companies overlook opportunities due to their narrow, inwardly focused perspective. As 8-tracks show, these marketers were in the music merchandising business not the 8-track business.

      In addition, as you point out, it’s critical to be aware of how the overall landscape is evolving and the type of information that your customers are looking for and need.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen