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Hey Buddy, Want to Buy a watch

By john on May 26, 2017 in Innovation

Hey buddy, want to buy a watch?

Sounds like an interesting offer.  Many would turn away from buying a watch displayed on the coat of a stranger but a few brave souls might accept the offer.  Could be a total bust or the greatest watch ever. How can we determine watch greatness.  Might be useful to realize the dilemma of buying this watch.  Is it a good watch or a bad watch? Is this a good price? How can I use this watch? What do I do now?

The question raises two sets of similar questions and activities.  One set from the innovator and one from the end user.  These activities focus on describing the “watch” provided by the innovator and the “watch” needed by the end user.  There must be a reasonable match of provided and needed for a transaction to occur.This simple question about purchasing a watch can get to the two important traits of Innovation:

  • Uncertainty or risk

  • Cost or expensive

The outcome of innovation is uncertain and both for the innovator and end user admittedly at different scales. Buying a watch is not as expensive as the process of designing, developing and marketing that watch.

Both parties are asking the same questions from different viewpoints. For instance, the provided functions (what the item does)  must match closely to the expected functions.  The quality and aesthetics provided must meet the end user expectations.   The following is not a complete or comprehensive description of the interplay of risk and cost but is intended to be thought provoking.

  • Features provided. The innovator must provide features beyond the current features of competitive product and desired by the end user. Identification of desired features can be a challenging task.  Customers do not often know what is “important” until they asking to describe desirable features.
  • Customer expectations and needs.  The innovator must correctly identify customer expectations for quality and appearance, for example. Obviously, determining expectations can be arduous and expensive.  Failure to correctly meet expectations is a sure recipe for failure.  The innovator must address customer needs (perceived and real) beyond competitive products.  The customer must recognize that the innovative product addresses more needs than competitive product or currently used product.
  • Effective marketing by the innovator which is believed by the consumer.  If the marketing does not correctly portray the innovative features so that the customer can recognize and accept, the product will fail.  Do not oversell but do not undersell the product.  The “facts” need to sell themselves.  Fancy and overused words generate skepticism and resistance to adoption. It is hard to generate interest but even easier to turn off consumers.
  • Optimized cost per feature for the innovator and acceptable price per feature for the consumer.  Both the cost and price must be at acceptable levels for an innovation to success.
  • Social Environment.  Innovation does not occur in a vacuum but in a distinct social environment.  The innovator, in a sense, is attempting to modify the social environment by providing a novel solution to customer needs.  The bigger the change to the social environment, the bigger the task of the innovator. There are many methods available to shift the social environment.  End users evaluate the social environment from their perspective.
    • Brand name recognition. If the innovative product has a well recognized brand name, shifting the social environment is “easier”. Brand name products often carry a pricing premium.  The downside to brand name products is that these products often create “higher” expectations for innovative elements in a product.  Brand name products could be faddish creating an expectation that the next generation of product will create the next fad.  Fads are fickle and start and stop on a whim or a customers get “bored”.  Being a brand leader is a tough gig.
    • Advertising.  The world is awash in advertising.  Standing out in this deluge is difficult.  The “facts” of the innovation need to be clearly articulated and easily grasped by the end user.  Generating such advertising is a topic outside the scope of this post.
    • Social Media.  An effective social media campaign clearly describing the innovative elements of the product should be deployed. The world is also awash in social media so creativity is needed.
    • Endorsements. Testimonials by celebrities or recognized experts can be used.  These endorsements must be credible to be believed.

In our next post we will begin to unravel innovation:

All you need is words

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