The “How To” of Perceptive Products

The “How To” of Perceptive Products

Growing up, I didn’t like taking medications. Mom had her ways of making me take it. She either would; roll it up in my eba, threaten me with the cane, dissolve it in water and then go ‘Samson’ on me or simply bribe me with the only medication that I loved taking, sweet multivitamin supplement!

Painkillers and Vitamins is the slang term used by Venture Capitalists to describe products in terms of their usefulness to the consumer. Literally, painkillers provide relief on particular pain-point(s) (example: Aspirin for Headache). On the other hand, the body systems depend on the vitamins to provide the enzymes that are necessary to maintain the general wellbeing of the consumer. While the Vitamins may not address an obvious Pain-point, a lack of it will result in a pain situation that may only be addressed by it (example: lack of Vitamin C will lead to scurvy).

The idea of Vitamin products refers to those products which are designed to exploit a certain behavior or habit of its consumers. Its focus is not on market niche but to dominate a behavioral niche; such that the consumer depends on it to express such behavior! Developing such a product is very much an Art of Perception than merely meeting demand with supply or satisfying Customers’ expectation! Prof Ndubuisi Ekekwe is a strong advocator of this level of product mastery having coined the term “Perception demand” in a bid to express his thought:

“The Perception Demand Construct is a construct where you work on things which are not really evident to be in demand. Yet you go ahead to create that product. The demand may not be existing but you are confident you can stimulate it. Yes, you do believe that your product can elicit demand and grow the sector when launched. This is different from existing demand which could be met via starting a web hosting company or selling light bulbs where you know people actually need those services.”

This nexus of Product mastery has been demonstrated by giants like Apple, Facebook, Netflix… in establishing themselves as major players in the market. This Article explores this tested process that you can leverage as you design your own Product to become a dominant force in the Market.

The How?

Some of the key questions to consider when designing a Perceptive product are as follows:

  • What consumer behavior can my product leverage on to deliver Value?
  • What new behavior can my Product synthesize or stimulate?
  • Does my target consumer currently express this behavior; how do they express it?
  • How can I simplify as well as introduce a ‘high’ for the consumer in expressing this behavior?

In this article, I will focus on only two processes that show how these key questions have been applied in designing some very successful products.

The Beauty of Magic Moments

Social Media

The Value proposition of every social media platform (Facebook for example) is simply to connect and engage people in their own unique way. This is due to the understanding of our desire for interaction or expression. More importantly, social media platforms want to become the defacto solution towards fulfilling this desire. It does this by enabling a flow of magic moments which increasingly draws the user to be more dependent on the platform. Magic moments happen; when you connect with a long lost friend, when we get likes on our picture, when we start chatting with new people, when we get comments on our post, when we are tagged … This flow of Magic moments is Socially engineered to raise the dopamine level of the user, making the user increasingly addicted to the Platform! These beautiful moments speaks to our desire for friendship, affirmation, relevance, family… it is actually creating a new behavioral pattern to how we fulfill these desires. Eventually, the users are gradually drawn in until they live on the platform and the product becomes more successful!

Big Brother Nigeria

So the news is that billions of Naira (no official amount yet) was generated as revenue in BBNaija 2018. The massive following generated by this Live TV Game is testament to a product strategy that was masterfully executed. But the business question is this; what were they really selling? BBNaija is a well curated sophistry of magic moments; from selecting the inmates, pairing and re-pairing, the tasks, bust-ups and peace talks, eviction notice and the evictions, shower time, sex in the shower or under the duvet… the entire Game is a master craft of Perception. The BBNaija team has understood something fundamental about human behavior; People like to talk about other People, so they indulged that behavior. More importantly, they are looking at some very serious data; according to Similarweb, Porn is in the top 20 contents consumed by Nigerians online. If I were being sarcastic, I would say that BBNaija is soft Porn for the family!

PrepUp

My Nephews and Nieces are always searching for games on my phone. I understand their frustration when after 5 minutes, they turn to me and say, “Uncle Chimdi, there’s no game in your phone!” I was a game addict growing up; 8-bit, Sega, Nintendo, Gameboy, Nokia-Torch game, PS1, PS2, I played them all. So when my friend Elvis Chidera told me about his App PrepUp, I quickly checked it out. How do you fuse learning, exams, games and magic moments together? Elvis did it by answering the key questions that I asked above. This enabled him to design a Preparatory class for SSCE and Jamb students on a gamified construct that enables multi-players. The best magic moment is that you win! With more than 10,000 downloads on the Google App store, PrepUp is a success in that category!

The Takeout Process

Apple

One key differentiation of Apple’s IPhone and IPad products is its simplicity of use. Having a closed IOS platform has enabled them to maintain this culture of very simple to use software Products; the standard seems to be in designing products that even a baby can use. At the heart of designing these simple products is the takeout process. This is the idea; why look for a Next button when you can swipe to Next!

IROKO TV

Rewind to the time, when to watch a Nollywood movie will require that you go rent the movie at a Movie shop. Some of the simple rules; is that you get to hold the movie for a set period, and you are to deposit a minimum amount of balance to manage any damage that may arise. Then, IROKO came and made relaxation much more relaxing! They understood that watching movies is how many people relax but the process of getting the movie has become a Stressor! By employing the takeout process and the abundance of the internet, they have enabled an easy and convenient experience for movie watchers. Still, IROKO is at the stage of meeting customer expectation, but they can evolve to the level of perception; with their banks of data, they possess the vital tool necessary to do this!

All together

The art of designing Perceptive products is not limited to these two processes. The general idea proposed by each process is a shift in focus from not just understanding the market but the Consumer at a deep level!

As you build, design or develop your product, realize that what you need to unlock Value may not be rocketry but just the fine Art of behavioral hacking.

I look forward to your thoughtful disagreement, thank you for reading! Many thanks to the tekedia crew and to Prof Ndubuisi Ekekwe, I am most grateful, cheers!

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8 thoughts on “The “How To” of Perceptive Products

  1. Chimdi, this is brilliant. You have explained a very complex system with that vitamin /painkiller analogy in a way that every person can understand it. On this line “As you build, design or develop your product, realize that what you need to unlock Value may not be rocketry but just the fine Art of behavioral hacking.”, you provide a challenge to all. I have already commented on the Forum before the team moved it here. Nice one and please send more. This is very informative to the community.

    Reply
  2. Chimdinma’s article contains several good points, but also advocates some bad things as good. The points made in the article are considered mainstream in many business circles, and the author was bold and articulate enough to delineate them clearly here. My rebuttal is to the ideas I discuss below and not to the author.

    I write this response as an entrepreneur myself, who strongly believes in the power of business as a force for good in the world.

    Business models that are based on either creating and maintaining artificial scarcity or on addicting its customers to something detrimental are not sustainable in the longterm. Just like a drug they have a really high heyday, but the lows that they will experience will typically be devastating to them. The lowest part of that low is that they will not be able to look back and be proud that they have helped their fellow man. Furthermore, after they die, they may have even bigger problems than their earthly legacy.

    Drug addiction is a destructive thing that has tragically ended many lives and destroyed the potential of many others. It works by hijacking the dopaminergic system of its consumers and therefore usurps their free will and desire to live a good life. Instead, they find themselves uncontrollably destroying their lives to serve the pockets of the drug Lords. Inasmuch as social media (ala facebook etc) has emulated this underlying mechanism, it has done wrong. And it knows it. People of my generation (and younger) have more potential than any generation before us. However, social media and the behavior patterns it births will be the number one limiting factor in people of my generation (and younger) realizing their full God-given potential.

    BBN’s exploitation of porn addiction for profit does not make such a business pattern good or worthy of emulation.

    Each human is given perhaps 85 years on this earth if one lives a long life (of course there are exceptions). What we do here matters. There are so many unsolved problems that genuinely add value to the lives of others. These are the best business opportunities and the best frictions to fix. Addressing existing and future need is indeed the zenith of business. Creating artificial need is wrong.

    It is problematic when the focus becomes creating artificial “need” or creating addiction patterns for the sake of profit. The cigarette industry is gone. Everyone now knows that smoking is bad for your health, causes cancer, and resulted in the death of many people — all in the name of profits for big tobacco companies. Clearly not good wealth. Not a good legacy.

    The diamond industry is on its way out and is today a mere shadow of its former self. Movies like “blood diamond” have become synonymous with our perception of diamonds. We now know it is just a stone like many others and that the value ascribed to it was artificial.

    The oil and gas (fossil fuel) industry created artificial scarcity via OPEC etc, but today it is clear that they will remain in decline till they are completely replaced.

    Again, our time on earth is limited. Let us focus on one of the many unsolved problems so as to genuinely add value to the lives of others — while ourselves being blessed and enjoying the rewards of such noble endeavor. Addressing existing and future NEED is indeed the zenith of business.

    Reply
    1. Stephen – your points are noted but if you look at the big picture, he is trying to focus on the stimulation of behavioral needs. The analogy of painkillers and vitamin is not wishing for people to be sick. Also the BBN certainly does not mean he is supporting that. He is merely using cases to show how people can create a visioning system where customers would be rapped into products. We all like iPhone even though iPhone for many now could be seen as evil as it controls the user instead of the other way. At the end you made his point on this line “Addressing existing and future NEED is indeed the zenith of business.”. There is no way you can address the “future” if you just focus on today’s need without creating that future. Yet, your points are noted.

      Reply
      1. The “painkillers and vitamins” is a good analogy, and I took no issue with that. Instead, I take issue with the slippery slope of when business focus becomes fundamentally about how to increase revenue without adding value to people’s lives. Or worse, increasing revenue while removing value in the broader sense.

        There are countless genuine needs and friction points in the world, and for a large subset of those problems, finding a solution would be highly profitable financially, noble, and even eternally rewarding.

        I had to get that out there for people starting out and looking for a problem to solve, and a perspective from which to approach the problem. My Prof, I have thought about this for many years.

        Reply
  3. The “painkillers and vitamins” is a good analogy, and I took no issue with that. Instead, I take issue with the slippery slope of when business focus becomes fundamentally about how to increase revenue without adding value to people’s lives. Or worse, increasing revenue while removing value in the broader sense.

    There are countless genuine needs and friction points in the world, and for a large subset of those problems, finding a solution would be highly profitable financially, noble, and even eternally rewarding.

    I had to get that out there for people starting out and looking for a problem to solve, and a perspective from which to approach the problem. My Prof, I have thought about this for many years.

    Also, I have nothing against the iPhone. I am both an iOS and an Android developer. So not only do I use these products, I make them. I also rely alot on social media. For instance, I follow you on Linkedin and very much value your business insight, Prof. So yes, I agree, it’s all about balance. But my points stand :)

    Reply
  4. Thank you Mr Stephen for your fine contributions, thank you Prof for your response. I believe that Business should be a force of Good and we as good people have a duty to engage knowledge to that effect.
    I will do so both in sharing knowledge and in Business practice! Thank you for reading.

    Reply

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