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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Association defines use

There is a game which involves calling out first word that comes to your mind when another word is uttered. Psychology tells us that these two pair form inherent association in our mind. A thing can do multiple things but is usually well known for one of things, which becomes its primary association. And if an object is associated with a particular use, that use becomes its prominent use and breaking the association becomes tough task.

People in developed world have interacted with mobile phones before people in developing world. At that time mobile was purely for wireless telephony purposes. Over time, mobile also started providing chatting, photography, videography, internet browsing and gaming services. Yet, for earlier adapters it is psychologically difficult to redefine association of mobile from with telephony to with other uses. On the other hand, users in developing countries who saw mobile along with all other features for the first time around found its association natural. That is one reason that early adapters still don’t use many value added features of mobile that new adapters use. They, and me, feel separate need of camera for pictures; computer for internet; and mobile for telephony. It is, of course, wrong to suggest that differences are rigid, yet it is true in general sense, and process of adoption of uses is slow in earlier users.

We see this in new generation familiar with computers from their birth. Ask me to write and expect me to pick up a pen and paper. Ask them to write and expect them to pick up their laptop. Technology has already changed meaning of familiar words and phrases. There was a time hard drive meant a long tiring drive by car and memory was thing you couldn’t buy in the market. To get people to redefine association, and hence enhance new innovating uses, is one of the most difficult job of marketer.