A new book from McKinsey, “Profiting from Proliferation,” appears to have been authored one chapter at a time by a series of authors, rather than being the product of a single author or author team. Nevertheless, several of its chapters make some very interesting points with respect to the implications of the remarkable (and increasing) proliferation of products, services, and channels complicating the lives of all marketing professionals.
For instance, while all marketers want to make their offers available in a multiplicity of channels, there are data that show customer satisfaction is negatively correlated with the number of channels that any particular customer uses. That is, if you are a multi-channel customer, you are more likely to be dissatisfied with the company you are dealing with – probably because many companies still have a difficult time with integrating all the channels they offer to their customers. The book also contends that at many firms, “proliferation is breeding inconsistency,” because organizations assign new people to focus on new segments, products, channels, and so forth, and these new people often end up crafting their own brand visions, their own service standards, and even their own Web sites. A proliferation of brands, each designed to deliver a different promise to a different set of customers, complicates things immensely – but one reason for this incredible proliferation is the simple fact that the “barriers to entry” for creating and publicizing a brand have fallen, largely because of technology. The book is definitely worth a read.