A recession, like the one that we’re living though right now, changes everything. Product mangers who had everything set up and working just right have been surprised to discover that all of a sudden customers are canceling orders and have stopped placing new orders. What’s a product manger to do?
Martin Roth and Richard Ettenson over at the Wall Street Journal have been doing some digging in order to find out how product managers can make the best of tumultuous times. They’ve interviewed lots of product managers who live in emerging markets and who have to deal with inflation, hyperinflation, and recessions.
What they’ve discovered is that product mangers who work in such tough economies are constantly being forced to rethink their business models in order to be successful. A really good example of this is how wireless services are sold in emerging markets.
In the U.S. wireless services are generally sold by getting customers to buy fancy phones with sophisticated features and sign up for long term contracts. This approach will no longer work in the depths of a recession when customers no longer have enough money to spend on such things.
In emerging markets this type approach to marketing and selling products has never worked. Instead, product mangers have had to come up with ways to match their customers’ varying spending patterns. During a recession, we can learn a lot from these product mangers.
The approach that is used to sell wireless service in emerging markets is to sell the product in much smaller, and cheaper, amounts. The product managers have realized that in order to be successful they need to make it easy for their customers to buy more of their product (minutes) when and where they want to. This means that in developing countries, you can “refresh” your wireless minutes just about anywhere including at retail stores and ATM stores.
This approach can be used for almost any product: make it easier for your customers to buy your product by selling it in smaller quantities and then making it easier for them to get more when they need it!
Is there any way that you could sell your product in smaller quantities? Would this allow you to attract more customers? How would you go about making it easier for your customer to get more of your product when they needed it? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.