When developing a new product, product managers in the consumer electronics market, usually, instead of starting from scratch, develop additional features to add to already existing products.
The truth is that it’s easier to improve than to disrupt. Therefore most companies end up with a product road map that leads to the development of products with an excess of options. Those options will never or rarely be used by the average consumer. This is especially applicable to home electrical appliances.
How many washing machine programs do you use on a regular basis?
Let’s face it with an example: a medium range washing machine includes an average of 20 programmes, but how many do you use on a regular basis? Two or three at the most? Although some programs are targeted to specific consumer groups (baby care for instance), most consumers do their laundry always on the same programme, at the same temperature.
Of course as a consumer it’s nice to have the options, just in case.
Considering that most consumers will never read an instruction manual – especially millennials and the post-millennial generations, who are used to the plug and play and user-friendly products – product managers should focus on features that are really adding value and not adding more specifications just to provide a product upgrade.
Usually product managers only think about the product and forget about the real customer needs in terms of problem solving. In a recent conversation with the product manager of a company in the small domestic appliances sector; he stated that although the company has a long history in the sector, being the first brand to launch the product category, they were not positioned in the consumers´ mind as the leading company in innovation in that particular product segment. It was really frustrating.
He confessed that the company had centred all its investments in product development but neglected the promotion. As a result, its products provide highly efficient solutions, are reliable, durable and innovative, but have a smaller market share than that of its competitors whose products´ features are of a lower profile. The difference is that their competitors developed an ok product but invested a lot in promotion, thus gaining better consumer recognition and brand awareness.
That raises the question: is your product good enough or is it too good for your market? It might be more efficient to launch a product with less features and to devote the resources to promotional activities. A great product, unless very disruptive, will not succeed unless consumers get to know about it.
In-store promotion, with product demonstration, is the best way to show consumers what the product can do for them.
Rosa Zaragoza is CPM Expertus Client Service Director, Consumer Electronics and Home Appliance specialist.