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Product Innovation Using Twitter and Tweetups - Part 1

Over the years we have gathered several thousand examples of product innovations. We have found patterns in the needs of customers and in the approaches that companies follow to develop product innovations to meet those needs. At the highest level, a customer has three basic needs, which create three major customer segments. First, there are physical needs related to the physical situation of the customer or of the location where the product is purchased or used. Second, there are emotional needs, which reflect the customer’s personal needs for comfort, status and the avoidance of anxiety. Finally, there are intellectual needs which segment customers based on their current knowledge and understanding of the company, its products and how the products are used.

To meet the needs of these customer segments, companies follow three primary approaches to product innovation. First, they may provide the customer with information, which helps the customer to recognize and recall the name of the company and its products, to explain the product’s relative benefits or to obtain directions on how the product should operate within a broader customer cost system. Second, the company may reduce the resources the customer requires for the use of the product. These resources include money, time, effort and health. Third, a company may improve the experience the customer has with the product. These experienced-based innovations add new appeal to the senses, associate the company or the product with an image to increase the customer’s pleasure in using the product, increase the customer’s sense of security with the product or entertain the customer while he waits for or uses the product.

Kraft has demonstrated some of these patterns in its recent DiGiorno flatbed pizza introduction. In one of its most innovative approaches to this introduction, the company is seeking out influential users of Twitter. Twitter is the social online media company that allows users to communicate quickly using very short, 140 character messages. For influential users of Twitter, Kraft is offering to host Tweetups. Tweetups are in-person get-togethers prearranged on Twitter. The company is recruiting these Twitter users, called Tweeters, in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. The company is offering to provide DiGiorno flatbed pizzas to these Tweetup events in the hope that attendees will like the product and spread the word.

In the second part of this blog, we will tie these product innovations back to the customer need segments and types of product innovations we have outlined above.

Posted 4/30/09

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