Conversation replaces communication
August 8, 2001
While a lot Fast Company articles are ideal airplane reading—light and not necessarily to be be taken too seriously—this month's issue has a fascinating article on Proctor & Gamble's experiments with re-thinking marketing and branding in the age of the internet that in some ways is turning P&G's traditional practices inside-out. Perhaps the central theme is the change in the balance of power between corporations and consumers, which means companies need to think about "conversations" rather than "communcation."

"We've been voted the best marketer of the 20th century," [says a P&G executive], referring to a ranking published by Advertising Age magazine. "But that's because we were the biggest shouters. In the 21st century, we want to be the best listeners."

The point has been made before, but it's intriguing to see a large corporation actually trying to walk the talk. (And if P&G is successful with it, it could have huge repercussions through industry—after all P&G invented brand management.)

Among some of the interesting experiments:

It'll be interesting to see how well any of these experiments succeed, and even more interesting to watch what happens along the way. ::

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Your thoughts…

The analysis following P&G's first quarterly loss in eight years (due to restructuring) does offer some cautionary thoughts. One analyst attributed P&G's recent problems on a failure to come up with innovative products and having products that were too expensive compared to competitors.

Certainly a user-focused approach might've helped with the innovation, but P&G's trouble illustrates the importance of pricing strategies, something that UXs aren't--nor should they be--involved in. As I've said previously, a great product that's too expensive is just as much a failure as one that's unusable.

george @ 08.08.2001

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