If the year of 1985 experienced the worst failure of Coke due to its bad market research, which was based on over 200,000 taste tests, 2013 was the miserable year of Google when it failed to market Google Glass – expected as a revolutionary product – to the world. Bad marketing research was also one of the most critical reasons leading to Google’s failure. Both failure occurred at separate time, however, they have alarmed marketers about the importance of quality marketing research.
Let’s look at what occurred in the marketing research of this breakthrough product.
Wrong at the first step
In marketing research process, the first stage which determines market problem can be considered as the most critical and difficult stage (Iacobucci 2013). But, Google hadn’t yet completed this first step before following the next ones.
Instead of finding the demand or a problem that Google Glass was trying to present, the company just created a product first, then tried to find customers who’ll be fond of it.
The fabulous thing here is that no one can explain about why the product was fabulous. Jones, who is a technology respondent of BBC and had been wearing it within six weeks, has come to a conclusion that this so-called brilliant product can make you “geeky” and lack the sheer usefulness.
Basically, the Google Glass has two functions that are to rapidly capture pictures and to access useful information from the internet. But what can these features bring for us in practical daily uses? Nothing.
Regarding problem formulation, Krum et.al (1987) also argued that a clear statement of problem has been virtually necessary before a research project can start. It seems that Google overlooked this principle in its development of Google Glass.
Uncompleted marketing research
Many people have still been confused whether Google Glass was an actual finished product, or just a sample. Firstly, there were a lot of potential problems with Google Glass regarding multi-task, internet reliant, learning context and battery life.
Google Glass enabled too many pop-up notifications that can occur simultaneously. Besides, many credible features become useless without a Wifi-friendly zone. Compared with Pebble or iWatch, Google Glass was just a device lasting two hours between charges.
Secondly, the first version of the product was not launched in retail stores. Instead, it was sold to a group called “Glass Explorers” who would pay an amount of $1,500 to get a chance to experience this Google Glass.
In my view, this can be considered in the “Design primary data collection” stage of Google Glass. They combined two techniques: cluster analysis for segmentation and focus groups for concept testing (Iacobucci 2013).
Clustering methods formed group of tech geeks and journalists who can give them what the group was seeking. And Google increased the sample size of focus group in order to predict what the marketplace would respond. Their objectives also was to let these slew of celebrities be advertising. Unfortunately, clustering methods cannot tell them which segment to target, and these focus group became criticisers who did not benefit from key creatures of Google Glass. As a result, its reputation was damaged due to the underwhelming experiences of “Glass Explorers” through social media or personal blogs.
Another approach that can assist Google Glass to target and serve profitable customers is Customer Pyramid Tool (Zeithaml et al 2001). The model divides customers into four tiers, and the first two tiers which are Platinum and Gold customers can be more potential. Once Google established a system for categorised customers (like tech geeks and journalists), the multiple levels can be identified to gain the differential levels of profits. Google can utilise this tool to develop customised products and service.
And what will come in the future?
The original Google Glass promised to have a significant improvement in the field of marketing research and customer insights. Google Glass’s developers have been trying to maximise features that create more connectivity and sharing of aggregate data useful for B2C and B2B marketing. However, Google Glass should release the product rapidly and widely take advantage of the momentum, because some competitors have begun their marketing research about smart glasses.
The positive sign for Google Glass will be that, according to a recently published report of Juniper Research, by 2020, more than 12 million smart glasses like Google Glass will be delivered to customers.
But, Microsoft HoloLens can be the biggest challenge for Google Glass when it is aiming to avoid mistakes of Google Glass and dominate the marketplace by 2020.
If Google Glass itself doesn’t want to be failed again, it should learn from its lesson. More careful market research. No stunts. No fashion spread.
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