Launching new products is something very exciting for a
marketing manager, but it can also be a daunting prospect, since
the fear of failure can be very stressful. Indeed, many failed
launches regularly make it to the classroom as 'state of the art'
failures - Dasani Water in Europe, Bic Perfumes to cite only a
One thing I have noticed is that most of these failed launches
have in common a failure to educate customers to a new gesture.
Offering innovative products with new benefits is not enough to
guarantee market success. One requires a genuine 'education' to the
new associated gestures. One industry that has extensively used
education to new gestures is the cosmetics industry - even more so
with the launch of cosmetics for men - think about it: how do you
educate customers to go beyond after-shave products to a more
complete care solution?
Educating customers is key for two reasons. First, it is an
essential step so that customers can realise the value of a new
product. Second, it directly influences whether consumers will
become loyal customers or not.
Educating customers can be even more challenging when brands are
trying to reach global markets. Habits that are well anchored in
Western practices can be completely new to Eastern customers. One
of the main challenges for marketers is to understand that in
educating customers cross-culturally, one has to bear in mind some
fundamental psychological differences. A most important one being
differences in 'self-construal - the way individual perceive their
self in terms of personal and interpersonal relations. Individuals
who grew up in collectivist cultures tend to have a predominant
interdependent view of their self - meaning they attach a lot of
significance to the relationships they have with others, and
individuals who grew up in an individualist culture (e.g. UK, USA…)
tend to have a predominant independent view of their self - meaning
they attach a lot of significance to being different from others.
What this means for marketers is that on Western markets, customers
will favour products that allow them to express their
individuality, while on Eastern markets, they will favour products
that allow them to feel like they belong to the community.
Overall, educating customers to new gestures is something that
can be more complex than it seems. All it takes is a creative