It has been more than 10 years since I was in business school but perhaps the most memorable class was Marketing 101. On the very first day, the Professor talked about the 4Ps and from that day forward I knew that “products” would be the most fascinating to me.
One of the main reasons why I love products is because they always remind me of a simple fact: a product’s success — or demise for that matter — generally depends if it resonates in a meaningful way on how we live our life. Naturally, the job of marketing is to communicate how and why a product can fill a void or improve our lives in a clear, impactful way. To do this requires organizations — big or small — to understand simple fundamentals for any product or service.
Who’s buying your product now? Naturally, before a product goes to market, it is a requisite to determine who you are targeting and why. But after a product goes to market, what you may have learned from marketing research methods needs to be tested and validated even after introduction. Consistently asking this question throughout the product’s life cycle is fundamental to segment marketing.
How is the product being used? We often stop at the actual point of sale for the product but it goes beyond just the actual purchase. For example, if a certain demographic purchases a widget with certain bells and whistles, organizations need to understand which bells and whistles are not being used and why. This is critical to driving product improvements and potentially fuelling innovation.
Why do they buy ? Understanding why people purchase your products is all about respecting the end users triggers and motivations. This goes beyond “basic needs” as defined in Maslow hierarchy. Convenience, scarcity, fad, brand recognition, and peer pressure are also salient triggers that have a place in the buying spectrum depending on the product. Conversely, why someone does not buy your product or service can offer hints on what changes you need to make or if you are targeting the wrong segmentation.
Where do they buy? From traditional bricks-and-mortar to online retailers, the where we buy our goods has expanded considerably. This can provide immediate insights on where marketing investments — from a placement perspective — should be strategically allocated. Moreover, it can help underscore a need for an organization to expand its distribution channels to reach the right customer.
And what are they saying about it? From the beginning of time the best advertising is word of mouth and that continues till this day but through social networking sites. This is the new normal. Tracking and monitoring what people are saying about your products can offer ques about what perception consumers have about your product and your brand. Today’s informed customer not only wants brands to understand them but they demand it.
These questions are one of the main reasons why I have always enjoyed my role in product management and product marketing. Indeed, they are common sense but often common sense is not always common practice. Could there be other questions? Absolutely, but it starts with these from my own experience. If we do not have these basics down then doing a competitive analysis for example becomes less impactful. Furthermore, if one jumps into analytics too soon then one may run into the risk of not knowing what to look for in a sea of vast data. But when these questions are implemented and practiced thoroughly, organizations have a better chance of sustaining the longevity of a product and nurturing a brand in the process.