Why would anyone buy or use any product?
That’s not a rhetorical or an easy question. If you ask the purchaser or user of a particular product, you might be able to get a very specific reason. But, the more interesting questions are,
- Is there one generic need that a product has to meet?
- If I were creating a product, is there some formula I could follow to ensure that my product met the market’s sweet spot?
Here is my proposal.
No, there is not one generic need that a product can meet and therefore be successful. But, yes, there is a hierarchy of needs, depending on the market cycle. If you know your audience, and you know the market cycle, you can engineer your product for success.
The concept of a hierarchy of buyer’s needs was most recently brought to my attention in an article from the Creating Passionate Users blog, by Kathy Sierra.
Kathy’s hierarchy, for successful tech products (not necessarily in education) is below:
She encouraged readers to mix, rip, and burn their own versions. Here’s mine (click on the image to expand it).
Each level is a gate, if only one product meets the needs at that level, that is the one that will be purchased and/or used. As more products enter a marketplace, buyers and users have more choices, so it becomes more important for products to meet higher level needs.
For a first mover product, if it meets some need, if the need is great enough, and if buyers can afford it, the product will be purchased and used.
Where there are already many players, a product not only has to meet a need, but it has to be a safe choice, it has to work well, it has to solve related problems as well, be easy to implement and learn, and be enjoyable to use.
Of course, in education, the hierarchy is further complicated by the fact that there may be multiple roles involved in purchasing, as well as multiple roles involved with use. Interested parties include students, instructors, administrators, managers, organizations, and the actual purchaser. The same person or group may have multiple roles as they touch any individual product.
How will this model help you? That depends on whether your are introducing or purchasing a product.
How would you apply the model if you were introducing a new product?
Here is what we do when we are working with clients. First, look at alternative uses for the funds that a purchaser would use for your product. Second, based on the market, determine the level of need you need to meet for purchase and use. And third, map out your product against the needs of the stakeholders your product touches.
How would you apply the model if you were purchasing a product?
Place the different products against the grid of needs. Rate how the products meet the different levels of needs. If there is only one product that meets your needs, consider if you can afford it and if it really does meet your requirements.
We are always interested in hearing from you, so let us know how this model meets with your own experiences.