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The customer is the key to success January 7, 2009

Posted by kstrehober in product management.
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user-drivenInvolving customers – a new concept?

http://www.userdriven.org/ is a blog that is about product management involving the end-user. At a first glance I thought that the concept of user-driven product development is nothing new. But we have to take a closer look to see how innovative it is.

 

New ways to get feedback from your target group

Nowadays consumers have more possibilities to give feedback about products they use. Thanks to the Internet, consumer can share their comments on products, contact the producer easily online or simply dial special telephone numbers that are indicated on the product packaging. The provided opinions can help producers to rework their products.

 

Customers’ role in market research

Furthermore, a part of market research is traditionally based on the ultimate buyer. For instance Haßloch is a test market in Germany, where companies are able to test their products and marketing measures before the market entry. The obtained data help to better analyze and segment the relevant market. Since companies already incorporate consumer’s opinions with the help consumer panels, I asked myself what the user-driven product development would be.

 

Created by product developers, tested by customers

If we take a closer look at this proceeding, we recognize that companies often start getting feedback when the development of the product or service is completed. That means that the most expensive and time-consuming part is already over. By contrast, user-driven development

involves the actual buyers and users of a product or service in its creation and ongoing development through open-ended customer interviews, problem definition, paper prototyping, user testing, rapid iteration and continuous feedback.

The author stresses that companies need to incorporate user feedback as early as possible in order to ensure the acceptance of their products and satisfaction of consumers needs. As a result companies reduce costs by eliminating possible redesigns and re-launches of the product.

 

Don’t look at your competitors!

Secondly, user-driven product development revolutionizes in my view the importance of a competitive analysis. I remember when I was running a project during my dual apprenticeship. Actually, I had to develop a new product. My team did not win the pitch because the jury found that we did not talk enough about our potential competitors. In fact, we decided to focus on the unique selling proposition of the product.

Therefore I was very astonished while reading the blog post about ignoring competition. The author agrees that a competitive analysis is an ordinary product management task. For instance it might be useful to have checklists that help you positioning your brand when your product is comparable or substitutable to another.

But why not focus only on your product? My impression is that it’s better to concentrate on market needs rather than competitive checklists. I will explain why: First, you will not be as innovative as you could be. Secondly, it’s very likely that you offer similar features (customers could see you and your competition in the same way). Therefore the main objective should be: offer better products than someone else! Concentrate on the creation of products that will solve your customers’ problems and your product or service will succeed!

So don’t be better than the competition. Be great.

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Comments»

1. AnniKa - January 15, 2009

Well, what can I say about your blog? I found it on the occasion of some research concerning marketing and I said to me that I want to write a comment… just to tell you that I really like your blog!!! You did an excellent job concerning the design, the titles and above all the content – what is definitely the most important point. It is really a pleasure to discover your blog more and more.
But perhaps it might be helpful to reduce the number of articles on the first page, so that the reader will be able to get an overall impression of your blog with the opportunity to read your posts in the different categories.
Continue like this, I’m convinced that your blog will be a raving success!!! =)


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