Thursday, March 15, 2018

Identifying Key Attributes, Features, and Meanings

When it comes to attributes, features, and meanings, there is a staggering array of possibilities.  Rather than taking the “kitchen sink” approach and attempting to be everything to everyone (which is quite often impossible), a maker must identify which of the attributes, features, and meanings is important to a given consumer.   Ideally, the product will be loaded with everything the customer desires, without the added expense of anything that they do not desire, to maximize profit.   But how does one know what qualities are important to the audience?

There is no clear answer, and the sources I've read each seem to have their own take, with very little overlap.   Each of these qualities can be considered in and of itself or in comparison to competitors’ offerings:
  • Functional Goals.   What is the user attempting to do with the product?  What problem are they attempting to solve?  What qualities are necessary to achieving their desired goals?
  • Durability.   How long will the customer expect the product to last?  Do they expect it to be serviceable for a long period of time, or is it something they will use once and throw away?  Are they willing to pay more for a more durable product?
  • Convenience.  How easy is it to use the product to accomplish the goal?   Is the customer willing to undertake much effort, or is it a benefit of the product to make the task effortless?
  • Reliability.   How well does the product perform its intended function?  Is there a chance that it will fail?  Is it something that requires a lot of maintenance and repairs?   Does the product perform well under a variety of environmental conditions?
  • Difficulty.  What will customers need to know/learn in order to use the product properly and effectively?  How much of an inconvenience is it?
  • Performance.  Can the power, speed, or other capabilities be improved to complete the task faster or better?
  • Aesthetics.   Is the product attractive and packaged properly?  Does it convey the appropriate impression?
  • Technology.  Has the technology progressed since the last time the product was updated to provide anything that will improve the product?
  • Value.  Do customers feel the benefit of the product is worth its price?   Can the benefits be increased or the price decreased?
  • Meaning.  Does the product speak to the appropriate emotional desires of the customer?  Do they feel it is appropriate or desirable for the kind of person they wish to be perceived as?
  • Market.  Is there a more profitable market segment to whom the product can be positioned?

It is particularly important to engage customers and prospects in answering the questions – the success or failure of a product does not depend on what insiders think of it, nor even the industry press, but on the way that it is perceived by the customer.

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