This is a very revealing comment from the Discussion Board of our ongoing Tekedia Mini-MBA, a new way to co-learn. This is a comment from a former executive of one of the world’s largest athletic footwear companies on a session on MVP (minimum viable product) and product MVQ (minimum viable quality).
Permit me to add a bit of an insight. When I managed the [a global footwear] franchise in Nigeria, what I learnt about fake products was very revealing.
1. [The brand] is an aspirational brand. While the company made effort to curb fake products, they understood that the fake products allow those who otherwise could not afford the original to own the product. But this is where it gets interesting. The fake products helped to keep the visible in the market segment where it served and what happens after is that once the consumers of the fake product ascends the social ladder, they upgrade to the original brand.
2. What this implies is that even for the guy that buys the Aba shoe for 1,500 naira, once he can afford the 10,000 naira shoe most likely will go for it. So both set of shoes solve a market friction for the same customer at different times in their life. Both quality are valid as it were.*
It is amazing, and that is typical. Initially, Microsoft did not want to stop Windows pirates in China. Yes, the software piracy in China which Microsoft largely ignored provided that kept Linux out was one of the reasons China is a Microsoft nation today. As most people used the pirated Windows, everyone adopted Windows. Then over time, Linux was largely forgotten. With time, Microsoft started preaching to those users that for small fees, they could get better security and protection from malware. Already used to Windows, most customers went for that, and magically Microsoft started making money in China.
*edited out the brand in this public domain