Every Product development stack is made up of 3 Distinct Layers; The First Stack is the Technology Stack, this is the stack that powers the product’s operation. In a car, this could be the combustion engine, and the technology that powers other parts of the car’s operations; sensors and whatnot.
The Second Stack is the Product Stack, this is the stack that defines the product itself, the Design of the product, its features e.t.c. in a car this could be the Exterior and interior design of the car, keyless entry and key less go, The Dashboard screen e.t.c.
The Third Stack is the Experience Stack, this is the stack that defines the experience your users glean from your product that they find meaningful. If you have ever seen the Value Proposition Canvas, this is the part where we talk about the Gains of your customers. This is the underlying experience your users find meaningful about your product. So back to our example of a car, the Experience stack of a car, for example, a Mercedes or a BMW could be the perception people have of you when they see you driving in one, as against the perception they have of you if you were driving Let’s say a Toyota (I have nothing against Toyota, they’re an awesome brand), or maybe it’s the feeling of luxury you get when you drive a Rolls-Royce or a Lamborghini, or any other exclusive car. The Experience stack is ultimately one of the most important layers in the Product Development stack, and I’ll tell you why.
So let’s use a human being, for example; Human beings are made up of Bones(the foundational layer), Flesh, and Body parts (the Operational layer) and Skin, hair (The Aspirational Layer).
To the best of my knowledge, none of us falls in love with Skeletons, or Flesh on Skeletons, we all fall in Love with Complete People.
Making a clearer comparison, we can say Technology is like the Skeleton, your Product itself is like the Flesh on the Skeleton, but Your Experience, the real value proposition, the real competitive advantage you have is the Skin and the external parts of the body.
Market The Experience
When you market a product, market the experience, because that’s the real selling point. Your Experience is what stands you out from the competition in your field, your experience is your unique value proposition.
Human beings are aspirational in nature, therefore tapping into that trait by investing into your experience is a strategic move that pays long-term dividends.
80% of the time, you really don’t need the latest iPhone or Samsung, especially if you use last year’s edition. Yet people will go into debt, use their credit cards, or even pay instalmentally for a phone that has very little feature difference from the last model. They don’t necessarily buy because of the specs, they buy because of the feeling they get, or expect to get from using the latest high-end gadget. That my friends is the Aspirational layer, that is the Experience Layer of the Product Stack, the key layer that can actually make or break a Business.
Create your Own Experience Stack
Experience stacks are created in two ways; Deliberately through marketing and Branding, or experientially through use. So, for example, Toyota may not be seen as a high-end car brand in some parts of the world, but in some parts of the World, it is seen as a durable car that can withstand bad roads, especially in developing nations where bad roads are predominant, it is also seen as a common car, and therefore its parts are easy to find, and hence maintenance is easy.
This is part of Toyota’s Experience Stack. You may not realize now, but these are some reasons people would choose to buy a Toyota over a high-end brand. Although Affordability may be a concern too, ultimately the perception that this car is good and easy to fix and maintain, plays a key role in building Toyota’s experience stack.
Another Example could be in Nigeria. The most predominant Smartphone brands are the three children of Parent company Transsion Holdings; Tecno, Infinix and Itel. But they aren’t the ones i want to talk about, there’s another company gradually making inroads into the Nigerian Smartphone Space, Oppo. Although they aren’t the first Chinese company entering the Nigerian market, their strategy is different. Unlike Tecno, Infinix and Itel, who primarily sell products that are affordable, but carry supposedly high-end Specifications, the Oppo brand is going the other way to target the High-end Smartphone market that is those willing to cough up around #120,000 to #190,000 ($300 – $500) for a Smartphone, the market reserved for second hand iPhone buyers and Samsung Adherents. The Strategy is to push their Products (the Reno Lineup) at those price points and remain consistent. I expect them to soon begin running ads that promote and push the idea that they deserve to operate at that price point, ads that promote the idea that they’re a luxury brand of some sort.
Experience layers are built in these two ways; Deliberately through marketing and branding, and through Product use.
If an Alien (they don’t exist) landed on the earth from Mars, and saw a Rolls-Royce, would he classify it as a luxury car? Probably not, we see it as a luxury car partly because of marketing. The Alien hasn’t opened a Facebook account yet, or joined YouTube, or watched a Music Video. When he’s done with all that, he’ll begin to see the Rolls-Royce indeed as a luxury car. It’s based partly on marketing built perception.
Investing in your Experience Layer is a valuable investment for both Startups and more Established companies because the Technology layer is ubiquitous, except in certain cases (or if you’re in the B2B space), you really can’t market the Technology because people really don’t care all that much. That’s why a lot more people know how to drive a car, than those who understand the working principle of the combustion engine. The Product Layer can also be replicated, you could actually have a competitive advantage here, but your competition can as well copy what you’ve done and spice it up a little.
The Experience layer is a lot more complex, it takes time to build, and time to disrupt. Your competitive advantage is built here, especially when your competition doesn’t have an idea what an Experience layer is, and how to build one.
The Experience layer is the third layer in the Product development stack, and ultimately one of the most important ones.
If you want to build a strong and firm product with a unique value proposition, you need to invest in your Experience Layer.
P.s: If you would like to talk more about investing in your Experience Layer, Connect with me on LinkedIn, and shoot me a message.
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