Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

What Do Baby Boomers Want From Technology?

December 9, 2009

Baby Boom Stamp

Baby Boom Stamp

I wish I’d been invited to one of these research sessions / dinners! Apart from the fact I like free food I think I would have an opinion or two. A few years ago when I lived in California I was part of a pool used by a company that conducted focus groups. They’d call every few months and ask me a load of questions. If I qualified they’d invite me to a session in Sunnyvale. I don’t remember many of them but one was from Yahoo researching small business services. It didn’t pay well – maybe US$30 for a couple of hours work – but it was fun and it felt good to have some influence on the direction of a product.

I was on the other side of the one-way mirror a few times when I worked with an IP Telephony startup in the heady dot com days in San Francisco. We set up focus groups to evaluate our PC-based “smart phone”. That was a chastening experience as users often did not grasp our elegant and intuitive (an overused word I’ve come to dislike) user interface.

“That was a stupid group – recruit another!”

I don’t think I am a typical “baby-boomer” in US terms any more. I have fallen behind the technology curve compared with my peers. But some comments in the article rang true:

  1. I am comfortable with technology. I grew up with PCs and Macs. I am less comfortable with mobile technology though.
  2. I agree “tech products are cluttered with excessive features”. “Excessive” of course means those I don’t want to use. If a product lacks something I want it is “underpowered”. My experience with a Nokia N95 is a case-in-point. It completely flummoxed me. On the other hand I can understand a complex PC product like Lightroom very easily.  The N95 was a whole new paradigm (as we used to say) whereas I’ve been using PC apps since before the PC was invented.
  3. I am much more sceptical than reported about the notion of an “identity passport” for using the Web. I guess I am an “info-libertarian” a heart. I have so many reservations about governments misusing the information “for security reasons“.

The take-away from the survey as reported was very limp:

What does that mean for marketers and product designers? “There is a real opportunity for companies to aim for a smart middle group that may well appeal to everyone,” Mr. Rogers said.

What’s that meant to mean?

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=baby+boomer&iid=3014309″ src=”5/a/1/5/Baby_Boomers_164b.jpg?adImageId=8094850&imageId=3014309″ width=”380″ height=”254″ /]

Early Baby Boomers.
A teacher and children in a classroom at the Walsgrave Colliery School near Coventry, where the effect of the rise in the post-war birthrate is causing overcrowded classes. Original publication: Picture Post – 9109 – Overcrowded Schools – 1952 – unpub. (Photo by Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

My Scribd Subscribers

October 29, 2009


Scribd BKKPhotographer

My Scribd Page


Since I established an account with Scribd two days ago I have acquired no less than six (6) subscribers to my account.

I didn’t think there are six people on the planet who are interested in the esoteric details of Bangkok’s bus fleet or the prices of cameras in Thailand.

On a closer look it seems they aren’t. They are all authors who subscribed to my account in the hope that I’ll take an interest in their work.

To me that’s an interesting nugget of Internet sociology. With a photo site like Flickr or Picasa Web people tend to subscribe to your photos because they are interested in the subject matter.

Scribd seems to be different. Some of its users are using subscriptions as a simple marketing tool. They probably subscribe to new Scribd users no matter what the content.

There seems to be an unmet need here: a way for authors to publicize their work in a more targeted fashion. For businesses there’s Google Ad Words and the like. Search on “science fiction books” and Google serves up ads for businesses. I got one for some novel publishing software.

I wonder how authors could get a better audience for their work with a low to zero marketing budget. I am sure there is a lot of good work out there that hasn’t been taken up by a publisher.

Goodbye, Gobbledygook – About Time Too!

September 14, 2009

See this New York Times article.

I can’t believe that it is a revelation to the PC industry and retailers that technical jargon doesn’t sell. I had just that experience when I bought my laptop in Bangkok earlier this year. The poor salesman was completely confused and could not help at all.

I had two specs – disk space and memory – in mind and a price point – less than 20,000 Baht. Oh yes, and it had to run Windows XP because I didn’t want to mess with Vista. I got what I wanted and the salesman was relieved.

To be fair, other industries are just as confusing. It is hard to sell specific benefits to a general market. I saw a Thai ad for some health drink called Peptein today on the Skytrain. It was full of pseudo-scientific words and formulae that meant zero to me and less than zero to the average Bangkokian. It was just intended to look impressive. They even have a figure on their posters that is meant to resemble Albert Einstein. Amazing.


Peptein Ad on a Skytrain in Bangkok

I mentioned before about how I like David Pogue of the NY Times deflating confusing sales pitches for various electronic products.

Auto makers are not a lot better. But at least their product moves so they can show it to its best advantage on roads the average driver will never encounter.

I don’t think the “Goodbye, Gobbledygook” trend will last in the PC Market. It is too hard to enunciate specific benefits for rapidly but incrementally evolving technology. It’s easier to go back to the fact tag.

Best Buy Fact Tag

Best Buy Fact Tag