How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

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Location: India

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Book review: 'Lateral marketing' - II

The Lateral Marketing Process:
So what's the process proposed by the authors? It's essentially the same as that proposed by de Bono, and simply consists of 3 steps:
1. Select a focus - choose an existing product or service for which we want to generate large incremental volume, and then decide on which level we want to apply the process:
a. at the market level (new targets, needs, occasions)
b. at the product level (make changes in the product, then seek a market for it)
c. at the rest-of-the-marketing-mix level (change only the pricing, promotion, or distribution strategies)
2. Generate a marketing gap - a most interesting exercise wherein you generate a lateral displacement from an existing idea. Essentially one may use one of 6 techniques to do this:
a. Substitution b. Inversion c. Exaggeration d. Elimination e. Reordering f. Combination
3. Make the connection to solve the gap - now think with normal, sequential logic to solve the gap created in step 2. The idea is now complete. What remains is to see whether it is feasible, which can be done using normal idea-screening and financial analysis methods.

An example would be in order to explain this:
Step 1: I choose cars as my product
Step 2: I apply Inversion and think of a 'car that won't run' (seems illogical at this stage)
Step 3: I now try to connect the gap created between a 'normal car' and a 'car that won't run'. What would be the utility of the latter? To learn the basics of driving, perhaps?
And thus is born the idea of driving simulators (or flight simulators, army scenario builders, for that matter).

The good points:
I found it an excellent book in most respects, highly readable. In particular, I liked the following:
1. Lucidity of language - usage of marketing jargon is quite low
2. Clarity of thought and structure
3. Large number of examples to prove the point that a method can be applied to generate creative concepts
4. Suitability for the layman - even if one is not interested in a marketing career, the fun element in the book ensures that one reads it fully. I enjoyed making displacements and connections in the given examples. It was like solving a puzzle.
5. The simplicity and workableness of the proposed process

The bad points:
Are there any? Just nitpicking, that's all:
1. The book could have expanded a bit more on the implementation process
2. One or two detailed case studies as appendices would have been great

Usage in the Indian context:
One may feel that the above methods need to be applied only to the more sophisticated markets of the West. But with globalization happening fast, it won't be very long before the Indian market shows characteristics similar to those of the West. In fact, the process has
already started. So, innovative companies can start applying such processes right now.
One may also use these processes to come up with innovative offerings for untapped or relatively untapped markets, like rural India.

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