Products generally come to market because they are either what the company wants to sell or what the client wants to purchase.
Do you remember the Edsel car from the 1950s? It’s famous both in car culture and in the history of marketing as a disaster. The manufacturer succeeded in meeting its own goal, but not the public’s needs or wants.
More recently, we have seen the mainstream introduction of hybrid fuel-source cars, such as the Prius. That car and its hybrid counterparts are an ever-growing success story, because they were created in response to market changes combined with evolving customer needs and wants.
The Edsel-hybrid example provides a snapshot of what’s going on in our universe of employer-paid group plans and voluntary benefits. Health care reform is changing our marketplace at the same time that our clients’ needs and desires are changing – both as a result of the evolving market and of even bigger cultural phenomena, such as the consumer desire for customization and the increasing use of Web-based technologies.
There’s no question that the marketplace has changed, and continues to do so. The same is true of clients. Will we offer them Edsels or hybrids?