Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Geek Speak is Out, Consumer Speak is In.

My mother needed a new refrigerator. The 'very' well informed salesperson at the store decided he needed to impress us with his understanding of the innards of the refrigerator. He reeled some technological jargon much to his own delight and to our dismay. A simple question for my mother stumped him though - how does all that make my life easier? All she wanted to hear was something which she could understand - in simple plain English!

Do you know what 802.11B is? Some call it Wi-fi, something which rolls out of the tongue easier. Wi-fi is a shortened version of wireless fidelity which actually still does not make any sense either. And most 'common' people prefer to call it wireless - which in reality it is!!

Cut to the ubiquitous personal computer. Have you ever checked the web pages of the Apple Mac with the other personal computer brands? No prizes for guessing which sells more.

For many brands especially in the consumer electronics space, the brand owners seem to get absorbed with the technical specifications that make up the product, rather than the benefits that these specifications may provide.  The product’s value proposition speaks to the benefits, not the specifications.

The customer needs to understand what he or she is buying in simple comprehensible language not complicated by tech. jargon. Geek speak is meant for those who understand technological terms, and in terms of number - limited number of people do so. Simple language is meant for the rest of the others, who are without a doubt - a huge majority.

'Pitch the experience. Ditch the specs.' Those days are gone when the specifications were used to bedazzle the already confused or underinformed customer. The near nonsensical sounding tech specs were used as selling propositions. But as the customer gets smarter, he/ she wants to cut the chase and get to the relevant facts straight away.


If there is anyone who can claim to initiate this, the credit would go to Steve Jobs. He removed the geekness out of technology and made it consumer friendly. I remember the times when huge instruction manuals were given with each product till Apple happened. This can be best summarised by the phrase  'I don't know how to use a computer but I know how to use Apple'.


Apple (and soon mimicked by others) has focused on the use of simple, consumer friendly products and it is not surprising that Apple has dominated the consumer electronics space. Most consumers are happy to skip the specs — they just want to know how your product will make their life better.

Maybe that's how the consumer electronic companies should sell their products. Keeping it simple, straight. And to use the Philip's line - 'Let's make things better'.

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