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Adam Tow UCF Class of 2010 Interdisciplinary Studies. High Tech Product Marketing, An interdisciplinary Approach. Disclaimer.

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High Tech Product Marketing, An interdisciplinary Approach

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  • Please note that this presentation and all of the products described in it are the sole intellectual property of Adam Tow. By continuing to view this presentation, you are agreeing to maintain in confidence the products described here, which are protected as intellectual property, trade secrets, and/or patents.
  • You may not use this information without the permission of the author.
our problem
Our Problem…
  • Marketing “high-tech” scientific products poses a significant difficulty to traditional marketers who may be unfamiliar with the science behind the products they are attempting to sell.

I never learned

any of this in

Business School!

an interdisciplinary approach
An Interdisciplinary Approach…
  • The difficulty that traditionally educated marketers have comprehending the science behind the products they market undoubtedly causes them to overlook the powerful marketing methods, which characterize the science involved in high-tech products.
  • Using an interdisciplinary approach which takes into consideration both scientific and business principles can create a more comprehensive and effective marketing package.
our method
Our method…
  • In this study, we establish that an interdisciplinary marketing approach can create an effective marketing campaign by vertical integration of the disciplines involved in both the development and selling of a product: the science of R&D and the marketing principles used in distribution.

Combining both traditional research methods, with emphasis on observational research, and primary source usage, this presentation will present a two-pronged case in support of an interdisciplinary approach to high-tech marketing.

    • Academic Support
    • Applied Case Study
  • These two methods of support will culminate in a recommendations about how a company, such as Eazio Technologies, can best market using an interdisciplinary approach.
the chasm
The Chasm…
  • In his book, Geoffrey Moore explains the “chasm” that marketers need to cross in order to reach mainstream consumers with technology products, realizing that tech products are a unique marketing challenge.
crossing the chasm
Crossing the Chasm…
  • Innovators and Early Adopters will purchase tech products almost “just because” they are available. Crossing into mainstream consumers poses challenges for marketers.
the breakdown
The breakdown…
  • Most of the marketing research available today seems to indicate a commonality in the difficulties faced by traditional, disciplinary marketing approaches with high tech products.
  • Marketers are often unable to reflect consumer needs in marketing new technology!
you can t explain what you don t understand
You can’t explain what you don’t understand….
  • The literature clearly supports that technology must be explained in terms of its impact and relevance to a particular consumer’s life, that is to address a “need” he has.
  • Stated simply, marketers who lack an understanding of the a high-tech product, will be unable to deliver an effective message to consumers, relating the technology to their lives.
a communication nightmare
A communication nightmare…
  • Several studies and articles, (including those by Sebell, Langerak, et. al, Haggblom, et. al, Song et. al, Gupta et. al), suggest that a firm’s success is directly related to the ability R&D and Marketing personnel can communicate effectively.
  • While all studies agree that this communication is important, many firms are unable to effectively communicate in this manner.
an inability to interface
An inability to interface…
  • The investigators, including Sebell, who research and write about communication between R&D scientists and marketers point to two important breakdowns in communication.
    • Jargon and Language
    • Perspective and Focus
disciplinary differences
Disciplinary Differences
  • The disciplinary differences in focus – effective “technology” versus effective “selling” – and jargon – “market penetration” versus electrical efficiency, lead to the breakdown in communication.
  • Much of this inability to communicate is simply a result of differing backgrounds, which result in conflicting perspectives.

How does each view the role of communicating technological details in conveying the significance of a product to consumers?

the views
The views…

Scientists would like to see more emphasis put on explaining the technology and the science behind innovation as a means to drive sales.

Marketers are often unable to understand the science (often due to R&D communication lapses), and therefore hesitant to use science to form marketing campaigns. Marketers may also feel that consumers would not appreciate the science behind products.

conflict causes marketing with science
Conflict & Causes…Marketing with Science



Science – assumes the world is governed by physical laws, which can be used to manipulate clear advantages for human use.

Marketing (Business) – believes a predictable pattern of consumer behavior and purchasing patterns can be established, and directly related to marketing strategy

Scientists– see the problem as a consequence of lack of appreciation for scientific principles.

Marketing (Business) – sees the problem as caused by an inability to communicate complicated scientific principles via marketing channels.

*note: though physicists, chemists, and biologists are not practitioners of the same discipline, they are all scientists, with similar perspectives and assumptions. Moreover, the contrasts among scientists are negligible compared to the disparity between their counterparts in marketing. For this reason, the disciplines involved in R&D May be referred to en mass, as “scientists” throughout the presentation, only specified when warranted.

the importance of finding common ground
The importance of finding Common Ground…

Establishing common ground among the disciplines incorporated in this project will depend on redefining the assumptions which predicate the disagreements between the scientific and business-oriented marketing approach. Marketers assume that complicated science doesn’t sell (which is likely a product of their own lack of appreciation for its significance), and scientists assume that laymen (such as marketers) have severely limited appreciation for technology, and will thus be unable to communicate its benefits fully, to the detriment of sales (which they feel would be increased by a fuller appreciation of the technology). In essence, the common ground between the two disciplines is that they both believe that the “correct” information is very powerful way to reach consumers. Redefining the assumptions that scientists and businessmen have will help establish common ground between them, such that they can better achieve their common goal of more successful sales of high-tech products, via disseminating the “proper” information.

achieving common ground
Achieving Common Ground…

To achieve common ground, the fundamental shared goals had to be established first. The goal of a firm is to maximize shareholder wealth. It's finance 101, and a goal that everyone in a company has in common, from the scientists in research and development to the businessmen developing marketing plans. When a product goes from idea, to prototype, to marketing meeting, it needs to be packaged such that it can yield the maximum profit. From this shared goal, a common ground can be established, that the best way to sell a product is by presenting the consumer with the best information. In this project, we show that a compromise can be reached which incorporates more scientific theory in a marketing package. Indeed, it is our contention, that the “right” information showcases the power of the science behind a product, but in a way that is accommodating to “lay” populations, as well. Doing so is established by creating a marketing package that integrates a moderate level science effectively, and is shown to have a good consumer response (the goal of a marketer). By combining the viewpoints of the developing scientists with the shared goals of the marketers (and by creating a successful, interdisciplinary marketing plan), the project will demonstrate an effective, integrative, and interdisciplinary model of marketing high-tech products.

common ground
Common Ground…
  • Both scientists and marketers, as members of a firm have a common goal, which serves as the unifying point between them.
  • “The goal of members of a firm is to maximize shareholder wealth!”
            • “Finance 101”
more common ground science integrated into marketing philosophy
More common ground…Science integrated into marketing philosophy

Marketing philosophy teaches that marketers should demonstrate the fulfillment of a “need” with a product. Perhaps a better understanding of technology can make this process easier? Understanding how and what a high-tech product does, should be a logical first step in this process!

interdisciplinary integration
Interdisciplinary Integration
  • Using the common ground outlined above, it becomes clear how an interdisciplinary approach can offer a superior outlook on marketing high-tech products.
interdisciplinarians can
Interdisciplinarians can…
  • Realize that their primary goal is to maximize shareholder wealth
  • Understand both marketing theory and scientific theory
  • Know how to communicate with and between both disciplines
  • Create effective high-tech product marketing strategies by drawing from their multidisipinary understanding and integrating their insights.
an interdisciplinary method
An interdisciplinary method…

A five step plan to toward a more effective

high-tech marketing team

recommendations for marketing high tech products
Recommendations for Marketing High-Tech Products
  • Designate a R&D to Marketing liaison.
  • Involve marketing in the development of new products
  • Educate R&D about consumer needs and market segmentation
  • Educate marketers about technology
  • Evaluate how technology can be used to create a marketing campaign.
        • Specifically (radical innovation)
        • Nonspecifically (uninformed differentiation)
step one
Step One…
  • An interdisciplinarian who can interface between the marketing and R&D departments of a firm is a prime choice for a leadership position in a high-tech product firm.

The consensus in

academics is clear,

cooperation is a huge

competitive advantage.

Interdisciplinarians can

fulfill just this niche, which

is often seemingly

unattainable for many firms.

step two
Step Two…
  • Involving marketers in the development of new products, though an interdisciplinary intermediary, will help the marketing department convey what it sees as important to the research team, particularly in regards to consumer needs at the various market segments. This involvement, as opposed to the traditional “assembly line” approach, will help the marketing staff become intimately familiar with the technology as it is tailored to the market niches they identify.
traditional assembly line
Traditional “assembly line”

Research &




“brick wall”




Difficulty communicating

Proper information

step 2 marketing r d equilibrium
Step 2: Marketing/R&D Equilibrium

An Interdisciplinary Solution

Communicate consumer needs


Research &



Explain technology and

It‘s impact on consumers

Provided points for product

differentiation, via tech.

step three and four
Step Three and Four
  • An interdisciplinarian would be able to coordinate and mediate education in the science and business principles that are fundamental to the functionaries of a firm, and establish common ground.

Research &






step five evaluate
Step Five….Evaluate
  • Depending on the type of technology product, differing levels of science integration into a marketing campaign may be called upon.
  • For example, studies by Charles Beard, et. al and others find that in order to market a radically innovative product, it’s technology needs to be well explained, that is it needs to be introduced to consumers.
what we know
What we know…
  • Successful campaigns which portray radically innovative technologies must devote a lot of emphasis on explanation of the technology in order to be successful.
    • Products like Tivo, which in the late 90’s and early ‘00s would be hard to differentiate from a VCR, require that the products be explained both in terms of TECHNOLOGY

and in terms of CONSUMER impact!


This point is certainly important. Interdisciplinarians are especially qualified to lead marketing campaigns which communicate the benefits of the new technology, (using today’s marketing channels), that drives radical innovations.

  • But what about more “incremental” high-tech products? How much science marketing should go into their marketing campaigns?
evaluating science usage
Evaluating Science Usage…

Two categories for evaluating how technology can be used to create a marketing campaign.

  • Specifically (radical innovation)
  • Nonspecifically (uninformed differentiation)
specific science usage
Specific Science Usage…
  • In cases of radical innovations, new products with yet unseen technology, it is often appropriate to emphasize the functioning of the technology in marketing campaigns which aim to show a product’s superiority and increase consumer desires by both the “cool factor” and the “efficiency factor.”
  • Though this case clearly calls for a high usage of science marketing, effectively doing so is difficult for strictly “disciplinary” marketers without a science background.
specific usage
Specific Usage
  • The Tivo example is a good illustration of how a new technology must be explained.
  • Other examples include many of the classic inventions we use routinely today. For example, the CD player had to be explained in terms of its technological superiority to cassette tapes.
non specific science marketing
Non-Specific Science Marketing
  • This is the “grey” area where an interdisciplinarian can capitalize on both what he knows about science and what he knows both his colleagues and consumers in the “lay” world do not know.
  • This type of marketing strives to play on the “cool” factor, or better named “the Hemi factor.”
the hemi
The Hemi
  • A case study in what is here termed non-specific science marketing is the introduction of the Hemi engine-based marketing campaigns by Dodge.
what s a hemi anyway
What’s a Hemi, anyway?
  • The truth is, most consumers have no clue what a Hemi engine is; nevertheless, Dodge spent a great deal of resources marketing their Hemi engines on TV. Why?
  • According to classic marketing theory, in order to market something effectively, the population should be segmented according to things such as technical knowledge. If that theory held completely true, however, we’d have to assume that the marketing department at Dodge Motors spent millions on TV ads to target a handful of car enthusiasts and engineers with their product. This doesn’t seem likely!
what really happened
What really happened
  • A better explanation is that the marketing team at Dodge engaged in the highly effective technology marketing strategy of non-specific science marketing. That is, they marketed a “cool-sounding” technology to consumers, despite their unfamiliarity with the science.
non specific usage
Non-Specific Usage
  • Non-specific usage is a very powerful tool.
    • Anti-oxidants and “Organic” foods are good examples. Most people have no idea what anti-oxidants are or how they work (or don’t work). The same is true of the functioning of most common vitamins and dietary supplements.
    • Nonetheless, these are some of the most sought after products, marketed with “science,” but science that is not specifically appreciated by the consumer.
how to make the choice
How to make the choice…
  • Making the decision to use specific or non-specific science marketing, (or a combination thereof), is a product-unique decision. Some guidelines can be applied, however.
specific vs non specific
Specific vs. Non-specific
  • Is the product a radical innovation?
  • Would a consumer understand its function or significance without some representation of the science behind it?
  • Is there a significant proportion of so-called “opinion leaders” who understand the science that would make specific science marketing worthwhile?
  • How complicated, intuitive, and communicable is the science?
  • Are there “buzz” words attached?
  • By answering these questions, it should become more apparent to interdisciplinary marketers which situations are most appropriate for the use of specific vs. non-specific science marketing.
  • Often, the best solution is a middle ground, using a combination of methods for different aspects of a technology.

The use of observational research, and the interdisciplinary approach to formulate a marketing campaign for a high tech product.

practical applications eazio technologies marketing
Practical Applications: Eazio Technologies, Marketing
  • To demonstrate a practical example of how science can be used when marketing a high-tech product, marketing suggestions will be proposed for a home sterilization product – the UV Sterilizer Wand. This plan will be relayed to Eazio Technologies, which produces a technologically similar product that will reach distribution channels in the coming weeks.

Note: this information is the exclusive property of Adam Tow and may contain confidential trade secrets.

uv sterilizer wand
UV Sterilizer Wand
  • The product uses electromagnetic radiation in the ultraviolet range in order to kill germs.
  • By shining the UV light on a surface, the wand kills 99.9% of germs.
first steps observational research
First Steps…Observational Research
  • A valuable tool in assessing the needs and degree of technological appreciation consumers have is by observational research.
  • By engaging in observational research, an interdisciplinary marketer can pinpoint the best ways to use science marketing techniques based on consumer behaviors.
where and what was learned
Where and what was learned
  • By volunteering at a retirement home, a place that represents a prime market for sterilization systems, several insights into consumer needs were gained.
    • Consumers are worried about the flu, as well as bacterial infections, (particularly salmonella).
    • Consumers need an easy, guaranteed cleaning system with high accuracy
    • Consumers must believe the product they use actually works.
observational research and marketing theory
Observational Research and Marketing theory.
  • Marketing 101 teaches that the best way to market a product is based on its fulfillment of consumers needs. Using observational research we identified the main consumer needs, recapitulated below.
    • An ability to eliminate viruses and bacteria
    • Reliability
    • Ease of use
meeting the scientific need
Meeting the “Scientific need”
  • Meeting the need to kill viruses and flu falls under the realm of science marketing of a high-tech product.
  • The following should be emphasized in a marketing campaign:
        • The ability to kill viruses – specifically the swine flu
        • The ability to kill bacteria – specifically salmonella and e. coli
        • The mechanism behind UV sterilization, focusing on the following terminologies
              • 253.7 nanometer electromagnetic waves
              • Destruction of “germ” DNA
              • Germicidal bulb
              • Natural light wavelength
              • Used in biomedical laboratories
elements of specific science usage
Elements of Specific Science usage
  • Specific science usage is demonstrated in the following suggestions.
    • H1N1 Virus Killer
    • Salmonella/ e. coli killer
    • Visualizatino of DNA destruction method**
    • Biomedical labs
specific science analyzed
Specific Science Analyzed
  • Most people are able to appreciate the scientific implications of killing the germs listed above, as well as the significance of usage by biomedical laboratories.
  • More centrally, they can appreciate, if not completely understand, the significance of destroying germ’s DNA. Therefore, illustrating this mechanism adds credibility to the product and technology. It makes the product seem truly “high-tech” and effective, satisfying the needs of customers listed previously. Yet, as shown on the subsequent slides, the DNA destruction methodology is not a straightforward case. Rather, it is a classic example of a grey area, on which an interdisciplinarian is able to capitalize.
elements of non specific science usage
Elements of Non-Specific Science Usage
  • The following are non-specific science marketing points, in that they represent terms which do not hold a particular meaning to the average consumer.
    • 253.7 nanometer
    • Germ DNA destroying (grey)
    • Natural electromagnetic wavelength (gamma rays are natural too)
    • Demonstrating biochemical tests
non specific science
Non-specific Science
  • Telling consumers the exact wavelength of the UV bulb in nanometers is similar to telling the average person their car has a Hemi engine: Practically useless information that sounds “cool.”
  • Mentioning that the waves are a natural occurrence means little as well, since the same is true of nuclear radiation, which is clearly not desirable. The point is to use words which have positive “scientific” connotations, such as “natural.”
non specific science1
Non-Specific Science
  • Explaining that the UV destroys “Germ DNA” is a classic example of the skill interdiscipliarians have for understanding both the science people know and that which they do not know.
  • Most people do not realize that “germ” DNA is chemically identical to human DNA. If they did, it would be necessary to explain the other factors which make UV technology safe. Simply inserting the word “germ” rectifies this issue, and allows a more efficient marketing campaign. (see next slide)
uv light explained
UV light explained
  • In brief, UV light is able to harm the DNA of any organism. That’s why prolonged exposure to the sun’s strong UV rays causes skin cancer.
  • The UV wands use similar UV light to destroy DNA.
  • Because of their small size and unicellularity, killing microorganisms with UV light takes only a few seconds. Harming human DNA with such a device would take significantly longer.
interdisciplinary advantage
Interdisciplinary advantage
  • By understanding that people are at a small risk for cancer, albeit a theoretical risk, (i.e. if they stare into the light for several days), a marketing campaign which is cautious to avoid mentioning negative buzz words such as DNA mutation is created.
  • The term “Germ DNA” is used to specify that the damage will occur to microorganisms, though UV rays cannot distinguish the species of DNA. (However, only germs are harmed due to their size, making the term acceptable.)
interdisciplinary advantage1
Interdisciplinary Advantage
  • An interdisciplinarian can recognize that the best way to use science marketing, both in terms of generating positive responses and avoiding negative ones.
  • An interdisicplinarian can recognize the best way to convey the science that satisfies consumer needs.
  • Using the five step approach outlined, a firm can better market high-tech products by capitalizing on the resources provided by interdisciplinary-oriented leaders.
  • Indeed, in marketing high-tech products, the interdisciplinary method provides a viable alternative to classical approaches.
about the author
About the Author

Adam Tow is an undergraduate senior in the University of Central Florida’s Burnett Honors BS/MD program. Graduating with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies (Biomedical/Physical Science concentration) and a business minor, Adam will be attending MBA program at the Ivy League’s Johnson School of Management in the fall. Adam is also CEO of Eazio Technologies and Multiple Sclerosis Research Project Director at the Sugaya Biomedical Research Laboratory.