Monday, April 24, 2006

Too much

Feature creep...

"Roland Rust's frustration with products that do too much can be summed up in a seemingly simple gift he received recently -- a mouse pad.
Rather than the rubber or plastic square that sits on most desks, this was meant to be a better mousetrap mouse pad. It had a clock, calculator, radio, and even a guide on how to use all the gadgets. All of which was too much for Mr. Rust.
"That seemed a bit extreme to me," said Mr. Rust, a professor of marketing at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business. "I was astounded."
So astounded that he decided to study what he calls "feature fatigue," often referred to as "feature creep." He and other researchers at the Smith School found consumers are tantalized by those extra gizmos and functions on products they buy, thinking they make them more useful.
But soon frustration sneaks in, even with the most skilled users. Alienated consumers abandon those products in favor of others that do less better.
It is no longer just the last-night television hucksters (It slices! It dices! It does your taxes!) who are cramming features into their products. With the development of cheap microprocessors that can add functions at little extra cost, Mr. Rust said many consumer goods companies are packing gadgets with extra, sometimes unnecessary, uses. And consumers are more than willing to buy them.
"Too many consumers make the mistake of thinking those added features are great just because they are added features," he said.
Mr. Rust's research, written with doctoral candidate Debora Viana Thompson and Smith School professor Rebecca Hamilton, was published in February's edition of the Harvard Business Review and last year in the Journal of Marketing Research."   continued ...   (Via Washington Times/AP)


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