The word product is one of those terms, like ‘brand’ that has two meanings in the world of business: there’s the surface level meaning and the deeper, more complicated reality.
The surface level meaning of product, as your customers might understand it, is merely something on the shelf in a shop. A new product is a new bottle of shampoo or a new toy truck. As a business owner, you know the truth is more complex and you have to grapple with that complexity in order to be successful.
What Are Products
Firstly, we need to expand the definition of products: they’re not just a physical item on a shelf. They’re anything for sale from a business that’s quantifiable. Yes they can be frying pan or a football, but they can also be a bank account, a tariff for energy or phone data, access to a digital tool, or a package of consultancy with fixed duration and fees.
The key to what makes a product is defining and packaging it; it’s a specific package of goods, services or access, rather than a negotiated and renegotiated service. So, when you change energy suppliers, and look around for a tariff that’ll save you money, you’re browsing products just as much as when you’re in the supermarket buying food the for week.
Developing New Products
If you’re offering anything for sale, then new product development has got to be a key part of your strategy, the it gets more important the less tangible your products are! A shop selling physical items will spend more time looking for existing products to stock at a good price than designing them, whereas a digital agency, software firm or consultants will always be looking for new ways to package their services to make them attractive to customers.
Doing it With Data
To do this effectively, you’re going to need to use data. It’s no good merely guessing: you need to know what your customers want, what they value and how money they have to spend. What you actually have to offer is often a fixed quantity: your expertise on marketing, or accountancy, or access to an app or programme.
What an infusion of data allows you to do is package what you have in a way that appeals the most to your market. It tells you what they’ll want to pay, what compromises they’re prepared to make, and how long they want this product for. A great price on twelve months of access to a statistics programme isn’t attractive if people don’t want it for year-round tasks!
Parcelling off access and perks in the most attractive way to your market is how you’re going to drive success in 2019!