Eliaf Alaluf, the co-founder of Follow the Seed venture capital once asked an Israeli start-up why they order Domino’s pizza and not any other brand for their office lunches.
- Is it because of the taste?
- Of course not. It is just the most convenient option.
Somewhat surprised with this answer, Eliav continued to inquire:
- Are you sure? You are in the centre of Tel Aviv – there are convenient pizza joints all around the place! Plus, many of them are cheaper and much better taste than Domino’s.
- .. maybe it is more about the brand. Domino’s just has great branding.
So the quality of pizza itself didn’t matter? The start-up vaguely referred to “great branding” as a reason to choose their pizza… but what did they really mean by that?
It is true that many of the most successful brands don’t have the best product. Absolut, the biggest brand of liquor in the world doesn’t produce the best vodka. IKEA’s furniture is neither the best, nor the cheapest. McDonald’s burgers are considered worse than most of other burger joints.
So what makes millions of consumers around the world choose those products? Well, most of the consumers don’t know. It is the business owner who needs to understand it.
IDENTITY AND EMOTIONS
Year 1929 in the middle of the Wall Street crisis in the USA. Jean Patou releases perfume called “Joy” at a ridiculously high price of $150 a bottle – an equivalent of today’s $1500. The perfume becomes a huge success and saves the company from a financial breakdown. How is this possible?
Because of the absurd price of the product, it felt prestigious and luxurious. It allowed women who possessed it to feel richer, more fullfilled. They didn’t buy the perfume – they bought the feeling they were longing for in the middle of the Great Depression.
Year 2017, an Apple fan working on their MacBook. Ask them whether they want a brand new laptop of a different brand, completely for free. They are likely to reject your offer – or take the computer and give it to somebody else. Why? Because their MacBook is a part of their identity.
These are two major reasons for people to buy products. Firstly, they buy because the product allows them to feel a certain way, it also lets them be a certain type of person.
CREATE A POSITIVE CYCLE – MAKE IT ALGORITHMIC
When you already understand your customers’ motivations, you will want to design your product in the most efficient way. What has proven to work best so far is the algorithmic model.
Look at highly popular service products like Facebook or Netflix, they constantly acquire new information and learn about their users, based on certain algorithms. The more those products are being used, the more information they obtain and the better they become.
This creates a positive cycle in which a product can constantly increase in value. The more users it has, the “smarter” it becomes and… the more users it has.
THE AVERAGE CUSTOMER DOESN’T EXIST
While it is self-explanatory that your product should be designed with customers’ needs in mind, many companies still take needs of an “average” customer into their calculation. Don’t repeat their mistake – the average customer doesn’t exist.
American airplane producers discovered it the hard way when in the 1950s the number of plane crashes during landing increased significantly. At the same time, most of interviewed pilots were reporting their seats on a plane not to be comfortable enough. After examining how those seats were designed, experts discovered that they were suited to an “average” pilot – an imaginary figure created based on statistics. However when they looked for those average pilots among the crew… they found none.
It is the same with your customers – none of them are average, however each has needs and motivations to buy your product. Your task is to research and understand those needs and motivations by observing your customers behaviour and interacting with them.
HOW IS WORK DIFFERENT FROM A GAME?
Your product isn’t created in a void. The people who work on it – your precious team – each has their psychological drives and needs, plus, they want to have fun while working.
Have you ever wondered why so many people like to play video games, but they don’t enjoy work quite as much? If you look at it, the principles in gaming and working are quite similar. There are certain rules to comply to, goals to achieve, competition, missions and projects… So why does the game feel so different from work?
The major difference is that in games you have a permission to fail and try again. On the other hand, failing at work often feels threatening and socially unacceptable – therefore people try to avoid it as much as they can, even at the price of releasing a bad product.
Give your team a permission to try and fail. This is how you can make them enjoy work as if they were playing, and at the same time produce amazing results. They will not be afraid to try, because if something doesn’t work out, they will simply do it in a different way.
DESIGN YOUR RAVING FANS PRODUCT
Raving fans product is one that your customers want as a part of their life, and once it is a part of their life – they don’t even consider switching to another brand. Macbook is probably the most vivid of the examples already existing on the market.
If you want to make your product equally successful, here is what you need to do:
- Find those among your customers who display signs of being addicted to your product – for example, they check your app first thing in the morning.
- Understand their motivation – what feeling or component of identity they are looking for. This will help you pinpoint what specific need of your customers does your product satisfy.
- Find a way to make it algorithmic, so the more information about the customers you have – the better your product becomes.
- Turn your findings into practical solutions and test them immediately. If they don’t work, simply try something else.
- Give yourself and your team permission to try, fail and enjoy the work – just like playing a game.
This article is based on Eliav Alaluf’s presentation during OpenReaktor
author: Marta Brzosko, www.afoot.life