If you want to create products and sell them to people, well—to be blunt—nobody’s cares. The mass-market engine that drove this mode of production and type of selling has expired.
According to AcuPoll more than 95-percent of new products fail each year. This harrowing statistic should sound an alarm, one that says the way we approach the conceptualization and launch of new products does not work.
In reality, the world doesn’t need new stuff just because it is new. New for the sake of having something new to sell, is the most short-sighted, non-strategic, and unthinking mode of behavior for a company.
Landfills and aftermarket discount stores are filled beyond capacity.
Somewhere in the lust to create new value the most important factor in a successful equation was overlooked: the real people who may use your product. These humans, not objects to which you move a unit, but flesh-and-blood with the power to purchase, naturally desire a better life. If you create with them as part of your process, your success potential because much, much greater.
New products that meet a real need for real people; well, that’s something useful and novel, a product with distinction and different than the rest of the heap. Just ask Swiffer, users of Dr. Scholl’s kiosk, or any other leading brand that keeps their consumers at the heart of the innovation, product development, and marketing efforts.
The trick: find people for whom you can solve problems. Then, get to know them deeply. Hang out in their homes, at their work, go shopping with them. Understand their rituals, their motivations, their relationship to the world and things in it.
Product development can take a year or two, so make sure you are creating for how your people may be interacting with the world a few years out. Know also where the trends are pointing a few years out. Think about it in reverse. If you look back five years ago, half the people you knew didn’t have Smart Phones, most had never stayed in an AirBnb or taken an Uber to their destination. Now, they use their phones to book these services and do so much more. Trends and technology accelerate at quantum speed.
People matter to the success of your new products. Ignore them at your own risk. If you can add value to their life, you thrive.
The hardest thing for organizations to do to accomplish such growth is to realize that traditional marketing research and segmentation is outmoded. The reason: it looks at the people with whom it should be trying to cultivate a relationship as a target, a one-dimensional object, rather than a fully alive human subject with a treasure trove of stories, memories, dreams, hopes, and fears. In summary, the old method edits out the humanity.
Here’s the key point: just get out of your own head and your office and get inside the homes, routines, rituals, and hearts of your people. Honor those that buy from you or give to you, as subjects with dynamic lives and problems you can help solve.
Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of Going Electric. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.