Sunday, 6 July 2008

Hype and destruction in product launches…

Remember Zoost? The video platform promoted by the founders of Skype? For all the claims including you-tube killer/ the "will change the way you watch telly" / etc, It has had an underwhelming response (atleast so far) from the marketplace and the community that was supposed to adopt it.

There is a lesson here for us! Excess hype can be bad, period. Thinking through, this seems logical- hype fuels consumer expectations, and the more the expectations, the more difficult that the product will match up. Add to all this the fact that hype cannot be controlled, and you have a situation where expectations could spiral out way beyond anything the product can actually deliver on. There seem to be two particular situations that seem to make for a particularly difficult outcome:

  1. When the hype is being created around a yet-to-be-launched-product. Since the actual product is not in the marketplace yet, the expectations can get very unrealistic, as it comes down to pretty much the imagination of people, and hence the possibility of reality exceeding expectations becomes very remote (For all his marketing savvy, Steve Jobs and the iphone came pretty close to this)
  2. In a "tech savvy" high tech product space, where blogs and other alternate non traditional media hold serious sway because more of them are created by "experts", and more of them are consumed by would be users, the potential for hype is huge- a rumour somewhere can, in no time, become a self-fulfilling prophecy, with a 1000 blogs writing about it in no time.

So, what can you do? Well, as someone who is launching a new product just be extremely careful about what you say or do not say about the product- the adage "under-promise and over deliver" might actually be a great way to go. IF your product is already in the hype territory, you are better off ensuring that you cool it right now- humility can be "cool".

Also, as a consumer/ investor etc, tend to take with more than a pinch of salt anything that is hyped

And how do you recognize the symptoms? If too many people are talking about a product yet to be launched, claims are being made of it being a mainstream product killer/ the miracle cure etc, you know you are in hype territory.





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