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.
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
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!
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
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!
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!
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!