At the beginning of each year, I travel to Europe three times in about 35 days for a series of trade fairs. And while I take a lot of time to write while I fly (we produce Trend Album™ CD-ROM trend reports from all of them), the 20 hours or so of waiting and flying for each round trip gives me time for so much more. It’s enough time to not only write, but also to catch up on my periodicals (we subscribe to about 40 each year) and read a few books.
The title of my current read is Mass Affluence: 7 New Rules of Marketing to Today’s Consumer. I highly recommend it. The book is written by Paul Nunes, an Executive Research Fellow at Accenture’s Institute for High Performance Business, and Brian Johnson, a Senior research Analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., an investment research and management firm.
In this book, the authors quickly introduce their theory that there are now millions of consumers who can afford to, and are willing to, pay more for products. They suggest that it’s time to address this new middle ground that steps above mass marketing yet does not go all the way to the luxury tier.
That premise seems both interesting and appropriate to me.
They offer an exercise early on in the book that I think is great.
“Executives should pick a substantially higher price point than their category’s current average (anywhere from two to ten times higher is a good start) and then imagine what they could possibly offer, given the freedom to spend —on development as well as delivery— that those sorts of price points would give them. What unmet customer needs could be addressed, and what innovative approaches could be considered, if the company were expecting to make that kind of money from each sale?“
I would like to see product development people everywhere give this one a try. I believe that the result would be not only creating products for this newly defined tier between the mass market and luxury, but would also give creativity a much needed boost. I can almost feel the excitement of creating products for an entirely new level where the question, “What can we take out of this to push down the price point?” is not the biggest influence on design.