Kindle 2 and positioning

Amazon announced the new Kindle 2 last week. It got me thinking about the impact a new model or version has on positioning. Kindle2 The Amazon Kindle is a book-reader that seems targeted to early adopters--people who like new gadgets--yet the discussion boards reveal that regular people, not gadget guys, are buying the Kindle in droves. Using traditional "buzz" marketing, Amazon was able to get Oprah to rave about it so Kindle got quick exposure to regular people... or at least Oprah people. So for a start, Kindle needs two positioning documents: one for technical "gadget people" and another for non-technical "voracious readers." It could conceivably have another positioning document for people who like large-print books since it can do large fonts for any book, helpful since large print often follows the first printing by at least a year. But with the new release, Kindle needs a new set of positioning documents. I should say, an additional set. The original docs are still fine for the new buyer who wants to know "why should I buy?" But Kindle also needs a new position for "why should I upgrade?" Original Kindle positioning: take your book library with you. New buyers will appreciate 1) Read Kindle anywhere you can read a print book, 2) Over 200,000 books available, and 3) with Whispernet you can start reading new books in under 60 seconds. All 'n all, a very tight message. New Kindle positioning: take your book library with you. Existing customers will appreciate 1) cleaner design, 2) longer battery life, and 3) more memory means more books. Hmm, I think I want one... Yup. I do want one. [Notice that Amazon uses the Pragmatic Institute concept of marketecture with their Whispernet feature. It solves a specific problem (downloading new books effortlessly) without talking about the technology (an EVDO card accessing the Sprint network). And because it doesn't talk about technology, they can change from Sprint to another carrier without changing their message.] So with the new release, the positioning doesn't change; the feature list does. That is, you emphasize one set of features for new buyers and a different set for upgraders. A new product release usually doesn't require a change to the primary message for existing positioning; usually a little wordsmithing is called for but not a rewrite. But a new product release almost always requires a "why to upgrade" positioning. After all, you have a new persona with new problems: an existing customer's upgrade decision is different than a non-customer's buying decision. Look at your current customer set. Do you have customers who haven't upgraded? Maybe they just need to have you explain--in buyer language--why upgrading is beneficial to them. Of course it's beneficial to YOU (it reduces your cost of support mostly) but why is it beneficial to THEM? Write a positioning document for each persona, in each market segment, and explain how you can solve their problems. New releases mean new personas which means new positioning.
Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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