Does the market come first, or the product?
Does it matter? It seems that different companies and marketers have different opinions. In our marketing class, we show Seth Godin's TED talk about "The Tribes We Lead," in which he asserts that the markets we are looking to create are in fact already there — and it is the job of the brand to activate, engage, and lead the market we want to associate with our brand. That's a powerful point, for there are many markets already out there, and once we figure out how we can improve their quality of life we can build a good or service based on whatever is lacking.
On the other side, we have Apple. Apple creates products that it believes the consumer already has a yearning for, but doesn't know it. This area is where our innovators and dreamers fall into. There is no market until a good or service so awesome or impressive comes about that people see and want.
Based on the scenarios presented, it is clear to see that the opening question is tricky. It all depends.
For many companies, brands, and agencies, bringing a product to an existing market would be much easier than the alternative presented. Fewer resources and less research and development would need to be done if the concept was to introduce new customers to an existing product.
But where's the challenge?
Brands and our advertising brethren have gotten way too conservative. The market demands not only new uses for old products, but new products. If new advertising and new product development started on a large scale, a wave of excitement would surely go through the American public.
That wave is something we all have been waiting for for a long time. Let's go, brands. Let's start innovating.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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