Close, But Not Quite There

I've been reading Daniel Pink's Drive, which has turned out to be a great book about how to motivate ourselves and others. One point that stuck out to me is where the author describes mastery as an asymptote, an algebraic concept in which a curve grows increasingly closer to a straight line, but never quite reaches.

Pink explains that this idea is difficult to accept, because we tend to get frustrated and give up if we aren't able to be perfect at what we are attempting. Understanding that this is normal, however, can help us set proper expectations and avoid becoming discouraged as we seek to master different skills in life.

Condiments that Polarize

I just read an article about Kraft Foods plan to bump up spending on some of its "power brands". One campaign in particular that stood out to me is Miracle Whip's "We're Not for Everyone". As someone to doesn't care much for Miracle Whip, I don't think that this stance harms the brand in any way, it just acknowledges what millions of consumers probably already know. If anything, it will just foster a closer sense of community for those people who do like the product. I commend Kraft on the maturity that comes with the realization that not everyone loves and wants Miracle Whip, and the initiative to go out of its way to make that a selling point.

Converting Customers

I came across a great article in which author Joe Hadfield outlines four lessons in turning customers into converts. I thought I'd pass along the highlights.

Lesson 1: Design Products to Feel Familiar
This is a seemingly obvious but often forgotten piece of advice. Well-known examples of this include the Nintendo Wii and everything Apple makes. Last time I went to Japan, I visited Toyota's Universal Design Showcase, which also exemplifies this principle.

Lesson 2: Hire a Guide for your Demo
When airlines first introduced do-it-yourself kiosks, participation was lower than expected. It wasn't until customer service reps assisted clients through their first time that they became familiar with a new way, more efficient way of checking in.

Lesson 3: Take Advantage of Technology and Timing
If you offer support for a product, try to time your assistance so that the customer has had a chance to open and interact with the product first. Most people who buy phones think they will be able to figure them out, so offering assistance at the time of purchase may be less effective than offering later when they call to activate it.

Lesson 4: Buy Time with Bundled Pricing Incentives
For products and services with a steep learning curve, this lesson helps customers get over the bump of failure. For example, it is better to offer five golf lessons in a bundled package than to offer a free introductory lesson and hope people stick with it.

The Rise of China (part 4)

Here's a fitting video to go along with the past few of my posts. While I don't completely subscribe to all of his points, Jacques has an intriguing take on China.

Martin Jacques: Understanding the Rise of China

The Rise of China (part 3)

It's always interesting to me to see how government policies and changes in law affect consumer trends and overall shifts in culture. In China, one of the most prominent examples of this has been the institution of a one-child policy in 1978.

The result of this change has been an interesting situation known as the 4-2-1 Problem, where one adult child, having no siblings or cousins, will eventually be left to care his/her two parents as well as four grandparents.

Many of the companies we visited outlined a variation of this 4-2-1 problem, and the incredible opportunity associated with it. Because so many children don't have siblings or cousins, they become the sole target of attention and care for two parents and four grandparents.

Embedded in this dynamic is the evolving cultural attitude among many Chinese families that since they only have one chance, they will do absolutely anything and everything to give their child everything s/he wants or needs.

Whether its diapers, food, clothing, or toys, every choice you make for your child - your only line of posterity - is an important one. Multiply that attitude by six providers per child and 17 million new babies a year, and you've got yourself a significant consumer trend.