The company must develop an action plan for introducing the new product into the rollout markets. With its debut in 1998, the competitively priced iMac represented Apple Computer's reentry into the computer PC business after a hiatus of 14 years. The company staged a massive marketing blitz to launch the new machine.
■ AC I . Apple's launch of the iMac, the sleek, egg-shaped com puter with one-touch Internet access, was dramatic. For starters, the iMac was a closely guarded secret until May 6, 1998, when Jobs literally unveiled the machine to awestruck reporters. The buzz continued to mount, on-line and off, until the machine went on sale in August. On the weekend of August 14, computer retailers prepared Midnight Madness sales featuring 20-foot-high inflatable iMacs flying above the stores. Radio stations across the country began an iMac countdown, topped off with iMac giveaways. Jobs personally signed five "golden" tickets and placed them in the boxes of five iMacs, with the winner receiving a free iMac each year for the next five years. Apple aug-men ted these efforts with a $100 million ad campaign, its biggest ever, to promote iMac through TV, print, radio, and billboards. The campaign t*
Developing New Market Offerings featured images of the iMac alongside slogans such as "Mental Floss" and "I think, therefore iMac."41
To coordinate the many activities involved in launching a new product, management can use network-planning techniques such as critical path scheduling. Critical path scheduling (CPS) calls for developing a master chart showing the simultaneous and sequential activities that must take place to launch the product. By estimating how much time each activity takes, the planners estimate completion time for the entire project. Any delay in any activity on the critical path will cause the project to be delayed. If the launch must be completed earlier, the planner searches for ways to reduce time along the critical path.42
How do potential customers learn about new products, try them, and adopt or reject them? (Adoption is an individual's decision to become a regular user of a product.) The consumer-adoption process is later followed by the consumer-loyalty process, which is the concern of the established producer.
Years ago, new-product marketers used a mass-market approach in launching products. They would distribute a product everywhere and advertise it to everyone on the assumption that most people are potential buyers. This approach had two main drawbacks: It called for heavy marketing expenditures, and it involved many wasted exposures to people who are not potential consumers. These drawbacks led to a second approach, heavy-user target marketing, where the product is initially aimed at heavy users.
This approach makes sense, provided that heavy users are identifiable and are early adopters. But even within the heavy-user group, consumers differ in interest in new products and brands; many heavy users are loyal to existing brands. Many new-product marketers now aim at consumers who are early adopters. According to early-adopter theory:
■ Persons within a target market differ in the amount of elapsed time between their exposure to a new product and their trying it.
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