The Secret Marketer is a pseudonym for a contributor of columns and opinion to MarketingWeek. They recently wrote an article that caught my attention.
Titled “Progress will only happen if there is jeopardy” the article makes the point that creativity and progress only happen if there is a chance of it going wrong. Risk is an essential element of progress. Marketers must take risks if they are to move things forward, if they and their brands are to succeed.
It goes on to make the very valid point that many of the organisations in which today’s marketers work “fear failure more than they want success” and so differentiation, standing apart from the crowd, doing things differently is all too often discouraged.
While the article was making this point in specific reference to communications, it strikes me that it applies equally well to product development.
Today we receive ample feedback on our products. Consumers have no reticence and are quick to tell us about any feature of their product experience that they did not like. Our colleagues are just as quick to keep us up to date about what they think too.
It is too bitter, too sweet, too hard, too soft. It has a taint, it lacks flavour…
And so we see our products gradually evolving to remove any negative criticism, to remove any feature that prompts such feedback…
…As a result we are sliding into a world of pleasant, bland and totally forgettable product experiences.
It is very rare that the best products are universally attractive. Every product that has its loyal fans also has those that dislike it. The best products are distinctive, they stand out from the crowd. Some people will dislike them, but others will love them, come back again and again and be willing to pay a premium for the pleasure.
It may suit you, (or maybe your company) to produce products that raise the fewest objections, maybe you are incentivised to minimise complaints. But products that divide the audience, that stand apart, are the ones that have the strongest advocates, they are the ones that change the market and create distinctive careers.
So, identify your audience, understand what they want, rather than what they don’t want. Make products that excite people rather than ones that don’t offend them. Make your consumers’ lives more interesting, more exciting and fun, and you will probably find doing so has a similar affect upon your life and your career too.
Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:
Providing Clarity on the Psychological relationships between consumers and brands