It is clear from the case study that one of the benefits of Karcher’s approach was that it sparked his imagination and motivated him to look for ideas and invent new features for the Presenter. His method gave him a new sense of inclusion in the product development. Listening to the customer gave him an awareness that the engineer’s personal tastes is not necessarily what the customer wants or what will sell. Involving the engineer in market research is a great way to show them what the product looks like from the users perspective.
I was impressed the way Karcher got immersed in the research and how that impacted on his involvement sense of ownership.
Doing the research and hearing what customers had to say would help instil passion for the project, whether it was handled by someone from engineering or marketing. This is true. Putting the customer at the focus can do no harm. It is good to acknowledge that “what they want personally is what marketing will sell”
Prior to this project, marketing and engineering paired together for projects but had little overlap in their roles. They were even geographically disparate with the engineers based in Switzerland and the marketing team in California. Karcher understood the technology from an engineering perspective and it was a novelty to have him interfacing directly with the customer. The advantage of this was that he could translate customer requests directly into product features that would meet those requests. Normally the marketing department represented the voice of the consumer and they got their information through a market research group (or external source). By engineering talking directly to the consumer meant that the number of misconceptions and false impressions was kept to a minimum.
He went to talk to the consumers at their own premises. Buying a presenter is probably a low-involvement decision for most people, especially IT departments buy the equipment for their staff. Karcher however was aware of the role of emotion in consumer evaluation of alternatives and his research focused on personal experiences including emotional ones.
Over featuring and unintuitive tactile usability were informative key outcomes from Karcher’s research and outsourcing was a good idea with limited resources and budget. Karcher’s idea of developing a knowledge database for customer feedback is a good idea and could prove to be an invaluable input to future product development.
Karcher definitely represented good value for money. If his efforts had been directed by marketing through a more strategic approach the outcome could have been much more progressive. This needs to be managed from marketing perspective. What didn’t you like about his approach? (i.e. things that you would do differently, even under the same constraints)
New product development is expensive and risky but these risks can be reduced by correctly managing the process. Logitech have a formal process with review points in place but even at the stage of the product launch the product goals and marketing orientation were not clear.
The first key failure about Karcher’s approach was the lack of product strategy. Karcher took a place holder in the product roadmap that had no resources and split the program in two parts. He decided to start with a simple, low cost presenter with no mouse but at no point were the objective of the product clear. Karcher didn’t specify what market the presenter was aimed at, what share of that market Logitech wanted to gain and what profitability they were aiming for. These should have been the drivers for the product idea.
Karcher’s approach of talking to consumers was a good method for idea generation but without the basic knowledge of the target market his research wasn’t focussed on the key consumers. The case study says that the...