segunda-feira, maio 22, 2006

Porque não podemos ser uma Arca de Noé! (II)

A revista “The Mckinsey Quarterly” no seu número 4 de 2005 apresenta o artigo “The vanishing middle market”. O seu conteúdo pode ser lido na íntegra aqui.

Executives recognize that premium and no-frills offerings are squeezing middle-of-the-road products and services in many industries. Our study of 25 industries and product categories in Europe, North America, and on the global level shows the extent of this phenomenon, known as market polarization. We found that, from 1999 to 2004, the growth rate of revenues for midtier products and services trailed the market average by nearly 6 percent a year (Exhibit 1).

For companies competing in industries and product categories as diverse as appliances, banking, mobile phones, and apparel, growth is strong at both ends of the market (Exhibit 2, group 1). Such companies face a difficult choice: either focus on one of the market's extremes and concede ground elsewhere or learn to serve both premium and value customers. Nokia, for example, has opted for the latter approach by attempting to expand beyond its traditional stronghold in the middle market. The company is marketing handsets that boast features such as cameras and MP3 players to customers in the premium segment while offering stripped-down phone models to rapidly growing emerging markets.

A second group of industries and product categories (such as airlines, groceries, and PCs and servers) is seeing growth as customers migrate primarily toward the value-oriented part of the market (Exhibit 2, group 2). For companies in this group, driving down costs is critical because no-frills competitors are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities—as Dell and Wal-Mart Stores demonstrated several years ago with their expansion into servers and groceries, respectively. Incumbents that can't lower their costs enough may find they have no alternative but to exit the market.

A third group of industries and product categories, ranging from digital cameras and MP3 players to coffeemakers, diapers, and razors (Exhibit 2, group 3), is achieving growth at the higher end of the market. (A similar move toward closer partnerships and value-added solutions is also taking place in many business-to-business industries.) Companies that thrive on higher-end offerings tend to justify higher prices by focusing on innovation that adds value and on forging an emotional connection with consumers or solutions-oriented corporate customers. Consider how Apple's iPod changed the MP3 game or how Gillette has continually broken new ground with its Atra, Sensor, and Mach3 razors.

Our research unearthed significant variations in the ways polarization plays out within industries. Consider the refrigerator category in Europe. Although traditional producers and channels have seen their market share for midrange products remain fairly constant, this segment is in relative decline. The explanation is that imports (particularly of new brands at the market's high and low ends), which are often sold through new channels such as hypermarkets and big-box retailers, have grown significantly. The overall market, as measured by the number of units sold, is becoming polarized as much of the revenue growth takes place at the high end (Exhibit 3).

We also found that polarization occurs at significantly different speeds in different parts of the world. The spike in demand for high-end refrigerators happened roughly a decade earlier in North America than in Europe, for example. This phenomenon was perhaps caused by the rapid growth of the top income categories in the United States and by the fact that premium brands such as Sub-Zero and Viking were better established there. Today, however, the growth rates of high-end models in Europe have overtaken those in North America. As companies and consumers on the Continent adjust to an expanded European Union, polarization could play out in many different ways.

We also examined a significant example of polarization in Europe's auto industry. As elsewhere, the compact-car segment traditionally has been associated with midtier brands. Now, however, automakers such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes are introducing luxury compact models—and changing the segment's dynamics in the process.

Market polarization is a powerful trend that will continue to have a pronounced impact within channels and across industries and regions. The pattern of polarization does not lie in a category's DNA, however. Instead, product and service providers and their channel partners will heavily influence how this phenomenon unfolds. For companies hoping to stretch their offerings to take advantage of these new opportunities, developing a keener understanding of the changing needs of the customer is the place to start.

Outra referência interessante pode ser encontrada aqui. Em especial na página 5 “From Tiering to Targeting”

Outra referência neste artigoDeath in the Middle: Why Consumers Seek Value at the Top and Bottom of Marketsda Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Outra referência neste artigo “Cheap is good” publicado pelo Boston Consulting Group, a partir do livro “Treasure Hunt – Inside the mind of the new consumer” de Michael Silverstein. Segundo o autor: “Not that long ago, cheap meant bad. A cheap product was, by definition, low quality. It was embarrassing, even shameful, to buy low-cost goods because it meant you couldn’t afford any better.” E ainda “To satisfy the trading-down consumer, your product has to be as cheap as – or cheaper than – any comparable product. But that doesn’t imply dull or ordinary; rather, it means the product contains only those technical and functional features that the trading-down consumer wants.” Esta tirada faz-me recordar uma outra que me ficou gravada na mente, retirada do livro "The experience economy" : "Customers don't want choice; they just want exactly what they want"

ADENDA: esta nota do JN de 25 de Maio

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