The Lexus and the iPhone
I was just thinking about an example in the Tipping Point of a company that understands the importance of early-adopters. Apparently just after Toyota started its Lexus line, they realized that they had made a mistake with the first 400LS model (so small that most companies would have ignored it), their flagship car. Instead of ordering a massive recall a-la most auto companies, they personally called every owner, apologized for the inconvenience, then offered to have their dealerships to all the necessary upgrades. They even ended up sending an L.A. mechanic to Alaska because there were no local dealerships to do the job. Why? They understood that these people who bought before the product was fully tested by the marketplace, were the people that were spreading the word about their cars. They were the “mavens”, as Gladwell puts it, and they should be treated as such.
I am still a bit surprised that Jobs didn’t intuitively know this, that he didn’t take it into account before the price reduction. Sure, he offered a great letter and rebate to the early-adopters, the “mavens”, only after the backlash (though, I admit, he reacted very quickly). Seth’s blog has some interesting suggestions for Apple of his own.