Saturday, March 29, 2008

Products are dead. Long live services.

An interesting post this morning from Jack Loechner, in his Center for Media Research blog. He toplines some of the findings of the 5th annual "The State of the News Media" report issued by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Both Loechner's topline of the major trends amd the report itself, (which is quite extensive) are fascinating reads. But it was the first line of the first bullet in the Major Trends section that stopped me cold.

"News is shifting from being a product - today's newspaper, Web site or newscast - to becoming a service - how can you help me, even empower me?"

The report's authors have succinctly captured the essence of the tectonic shift happening everywhere with everything. The trend of products becoming services is universal. In a shift so subtle and incremental that marketers are still trying to comprehend it, consumers have redefined their relationship to products. The technology tools that have empowered all of us have permanently changed our needs and expectations. Dialog, utility, interactive tools, and on-demand convenience are no longer optional. They're the expected standard equipment.

Some products and marketers are beginning to understand this. Kraft Foods, figuring that we expect our food products to do more than just nourish us, has launched a desktop recipe widget. Saucy Pork Medallions, anyone?

As marketers, I think we have to start considering that the question in most consumers' minds isn't "Is this product NEW and IMPROVED?", but rather "What have you done for me lately?"

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