Marketing Inspiration #2 – Know how your products are used.

“I know how my product is being used!” I hear you cry. But do you really?

Let’s look at a potentially moribund product. The pen.

Imagine being a pen manufacturer in this day and age. I use my computer keyboard for about 90% of my writing and since I got my iPhone I can use that for the other 10% (I’ve even downloaded an app that lets me sketch ideas on the screen and save them).

So here is a question for you. ‘How do I use a pen?’.

The obvious answer is to write and that was the answer that nearly all pen manufactures would give, even in the late 1950’s when Bic perfected the Ball Point Pen previously invented by the Biro brothers (even to this day some Bic pens have the name Biro on the side as testament to their inventors).

As ball-point pens became cheaper and cheaper, many pen manufactures stared to lose market share and go out of business.

Parker however decided to find out how people were using their product and to their surprise, people weren’t using them for writing. They were giving them as gifts.

Anyone could buy a Bic but a well made pen was more of a gesture. It was given to loved ones who were leaving as a way of saying ‘please stay in touch’. Wives bought them for husbands when they got promoted or got a new job so they could ‘make a good impression’ at the office.

Parkers weren’t used for writing, they were a gift to a loved one or a token of thanks.

As a result of this Parker repacked their pens in gift cases and represented themselves as a gift idea rather than a writing tool.

By understanding how their product was used Parker are still around today to tell the tale unlike the vast majority of their competitors back in the 50’s.

Whenever we have been asked to conduct research, our clients are nearly always surprised about how their products or services are used or perceived.

This invaluable knowledge often changes the direction a company is heading and invariably improves their fortunes as well.

So, to conclude – ask yourself this question – “How are my products (or services) being used?”.