“Product is what customers say it is”

“Product is what customers say it is”

You have created toothpicks for cleaning teeth, but some customers are buying them for eating suya (seasoned, skewered and grilled strips of meat) . That the toothpicks are now used for eating suya must not diminish your playbook. Rather, your business antenna must signal that your product has a new use case. Winning in markets requires awareness and observation – shine your eyes because a product is whatever customers say it is, notes Francis Oguaju.

Comment on LinkedIn Feed

Comment #1: It makes sense: “product is what customer say it is”. Customers defining what your product is sounds great, the producer though must be intentional in solving real needs to allow customers define your product and market it for you at no cost.

My response to #1: Absolutely. The toothpicks have not seized to be used for the teeth. The point here is having awareness to see emerging opportunities and go after them. As I noted in our this week’s class, Instagram was not originally created for its current use. Twitter was not created for its current use. The message is clear: observe and use data to understand what matters!

Comment #2: I think this line came in one analysis on iPhone, couple of years ago. Why do people use iPhone? Different reasons, to some, it’s just the cameras, so to this set of customers, iPhone is a camera. Some use it because of security, and to this set of customers, iPhone means security. To some, it’s just a class thing, to this group, holding one in the hand is all that matters, not battery life nor functionality. This list goes on and on.

It is only through awareness, being the manufacturer, you realise that you are serving different people, the same product, but different jobs or end goals for users.

That small quote is deep, it’s never about what you think your product does, but what users actually use it for, and what it means to them.


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