Playboy Product Positioning Pivot

BN-KS717_1013pl_J_20151013070656The WSJ reports today that Playboy magazine will move away from what started it and what it is known for to become articles only publication. It turns out its print strategy trails its online digital strategy. Playboy had already made its website Safe For Work with no pictures that will get you in trouble at work. That change to playboy.com led to its web traffic skyrocket from 4 million to 16 million visitors a month.

So why the change? Let us use the customer job to be done growth matrix I have shared with you.

Customer Jobs To Be Done Growth Matrix

They were, for a long time, stayed in the top left quadrant – serving specific jobs of a chosen customer segment.  What job did customers hire Playboy for? They hired it as hedonistic consumption and needed utilitarian justification. Playboy provided the former with pictures and latter with articles. And it was never meant to be conspicuous consumption.

“I only read it for the articles”

This was not a good place to stay put because of two reasons

  1. Customer mix changed –  people grew out of it or didn’t grow into it
  2. Alternatives proliferated – other numerous cheaper alternatives became available. And these did the customer job better than Playboy could – in cost, content, accessibility, discreteness etc.
  3. Customer preference changes – you can see the many possibilities here
  4. Contention for customer spend increased – There were more than one candidates competing for the same budget.

So after seeing declining sales, dropping web traffic and site revenue they are doing a pivot. They chose not to play in top left quadrant – that is they did not want to evolve the product to be the better candidate to fill the hedonistic job-to-be-done than alternatives. Instead they are moving to top right quadrant – Existing customers, new jobs – with option to include New customers, new jobs.

Hence the focus on articles and a complete product revamp. As you see in my matrix that is a product pivot and product positioning change. The new positioning is, “Utilitarian consumption with hope as Conspicuous consumption”. That is the articles will be so well researched and erudite that you will proudly display it like you do for The Economist to The Journal.

That is a product pivot and positioning to tell customers what new jobs Playboy wants customers to hire it for. And it opens up new customers beyond its dwindling install base.

Final note, product pivot does not mean they are the right fit. Now they need to contend with other options available to customers for the same job to be done and the cycle starts over.