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Product Management:
Facts & Trends
Product Managers Matter
It would be difficult to think of any job which is more in the heart of the company than that of product management. Product managers are the key bridge between the innovators in a corporations and the marketplace. Product managers will always be important and face a great future.

Product Management Associated with Procter & Gamble
Product management developed in the 1950s and has been most closely associated with early developments by Procter & Gamble. Originally, P&G had products competing against other competitors and against sister P&G products. Today, organizations are more likely to have their products working as a team and less as competitors.

Tech Savvy Critical
Talent with and understanding of technology will be a primary driver of career success in the future. Today's marketing graduate needs to have a comfort level with web-based marketing techniques, demographics and potential. An understanding of potential means to deliver online messages be they through PC's, handheld devices or television derivatives will be vital. Closely-related, of course, is the exploding area of using data warehouses to better meet customer needs. Databases and marketing messages easily meld on the web and create enormous opportunities for the web-savvy.

Marketing is Globalizing
Product management is becoming more and more a global concept. The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in international product management, although much of it may occur locally in international markets. A key strategic decision facing many corporations is whether to integrate their product management efforts. Companies like Nestle have artfully combined global and local brand management. In Australia, for example, Nestle markets global brands such as Perugina chocolates, Nescafe and L'Oreal cosmetics. At the same time, it has developed local brands attuned to the local market. In time, some of the local brands may be exported elsewhere should market research indicate a broader potential.

Computer and statistical skills are vital
Product managers are big-time consumers of research. As a result, they must be good with basic math, statistics, and computer analysis. Problem formulation, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, and communication abilities are skills that will be necessary every day in marketing research.

Specialization and Customization on the Rise
The world of the product manager is changing with economic growth as well. As the economy grows there is increasing specialization and competition in each market niche. While this can initially complicate the matter, specialization opens great opportunities to target specific demographic groups. This idea has gained currency in the concept of mass-customization where a company targets products down to the level of the individual. Levi-Strauss, for example, has begun selling blue jeans fit to each individual customer.

Marketing is an Evolving Discipline
The discipline of marketing is continuing to evolve. The heart of a product manager's job has historically been illustrated with the four P's, devised in the mid-1960s by Harvard Business School Professor N. Borden. The P's are product, place, price and promotion. Today, this basis marketing theory has been challenged to include 3 other P's including people, process and provision of customer service. Ken Hudson of the Original Thinking Company has suggested instead the five i's: ideas, interactions, information, imagination and interruptions. Ideas are transformed information with the intention of creating profit. Imagination drives the future of products. "Brand imagination", for example, involves envisioning where a brand could be in 5 years time and the action today to make the vision happen. Interruptions refers to the need to disrupt familiar patterns of thinking and behaving. Growing market share involves bringing customers around to your way of thinking. Interactions involves the crucial importance of listening and understanding what customers want.
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