Category Archives: product development

How to Teach Social Media Marketing: Global

Most summers I am traveling and I always assess the digital capabilities in the countries I visit. Here in Armenia the population is well connected via cell phone and many people use smart phones. I have heard that the country is seeking to become a tech hub as it is landlocked and surrounded by some less than friendly neighbors. 


Hello I Must be Going


Last week I was handed a full-sized container of toothpaste by an unfamiliar company.  The brand Hello was distributing 6.25 ounce packages of pink grapefruit mint paste near Union Square in Manhattan. A full-size sample is a pretty expensive promotion and I thought that the situation was a bit strange.  In general, whenever I receive samples I look up the company to make sure that the product is legitimate.  This time I found out some very interesting information as well.

Hello is a new entrant in the US toothpaste market and is a 6 person operation based in NJ.  The toothpaste’s package indicates that the product is an anti-cavity toothpaste that strengthens + whitens teeth.  In addition the package reads “99% natural” in a pink bubble above the brand name.  Therein lies the problem.

According to Euromonitor the US oral care market grew +2% in 2012 to $6.9 billion.  The major players including: P&G, Johnson and Johnson and Colgate control 64% of the market share with P&G leading the pack holding 33% of the total market.

Though the market in the US is expected to grow 10% through 2017 oral care is a strange choice for a new brand given the entrenchment and strength of the competition.   So it was no surprise when P&G decided to sue Hello over product claims.

P&G filed suit in January to stop Hello from claiming that the product, containing ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate,  was “natural.” In an agreement Hello agreed to stop selling their toothpaste with the 99% natural label and instead gave packages away for free.

It’s one way to get attention for your brand. Now, will people switch?


How does Crowd Sourcing Compare to Professional Product Development?


Marion Poetz and Martin Schreier examined ideas for new baby products developed by average customers and compared them to products designed by a world renowned team of in-house product developers for a large multinational corporation.  

The researchers chose the Austrian company BamedMam ( to participate in the study.  BamedMam sells 40 million products in over 30 countries and employs 400 people globally.  The firm has won global design prizes and it known for their innovative products. 

Seventy customers submitted their product ideas on the company website with the opportunity to earn free products in a raffle.   

The BamedMam CEO and Director of R&D assessed all the ideas using set criteria for evaluation purposes.  The ideas were grouped by topic and then randomly ordered so the evaluators did not know who had developed the idea, a customer or an in-house employee.  Each idea was evaluated based on a five point scale for 1) novelty 2) problem solving ability and 3) feasibility. 

The study found that the customer ideas were more novel and more effective in solving customer problems.  The professionals scored higher on feasibility, but lower than customers on the overall quality measure (Poetz & Schreier, 2012).  The bottom line is that customers may have better knowledge of their needs and how to solve them than professional developers.

Something for companies to think about huh?