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In a world where new products are produced on a daily basis, brands need to be more aware than ever. Products need to solve a problem and have to be consumer-oriented to be successful. While design, aesthetics or the overall user experience clearly is important, a brand needs to focus on their user’s needs.
This can result in multiple ways. May it just be a slight alteration in the user interface or a simpler way to access a certain function in an app. It even can show itself in a revamped design. E.g. of a camera bag where the quick access camera slot was redesigned to match the needs of professionals.
Although some alterations in product design are easier to spot than others, the question remains. How do you actually make sure that the product is user / consumer-oriented?
Data – A scientific way to build user-centric products
In 2019, data is probably the most important factor in being able to make sure your products are user-oriented. Clicks, downloads, sales, reviews, surveys or even the old fashioned way, asking them directly what can be improved for a customer to rebuy and come back. Yet every one of them only tells you a part of the story.
While the number of sales surely is of great importance it only partly tells you if your product is actually good. So the question remains on how to build consumer-oriented products.
Let’s evaluate: There are many products and services out there which are cheap or easy to produce. Keeping that aside let’s have a look at the smartphone market. Since 2006, when Apple released the first iPhone, other manufacturers have developed their own products. They introduced new iterations, alterations, and improvements in a consecutive cycle of one year. And every year the consumers buy a new phone. Sales skyrocketed until the beginning of 2018-2019. That’s when things got interesting…
The market started to even out and sales even plummeted for the major companies (including the big players like Apple and Samsung).
Why? Quite simply, companies like Huawei or OnePlus introduced devices with flagship quality hardware, stunning designs, and superb consumer-oriented software. While companies like Apple and Samsung wanted to sell unnecessary gimmicks to their users. They even increased their prices to a point where users basically weren’t able to afford them anymore.
To sum things up. As long as the niche you are in has still potential your sales probably will not be too much in danger. Yet when the market gets crowded, consumers tend to switch their favorite manufacturers and buy products that are more consumer-oriented.
Our all-time favorite reviews are clearly a remarkable tool to use when you’re trying to find out if you are creating consumer-oriented products.
Simple systems on your website, google business tools and Amazon (if you are selling on their marketplace) offer powerful insights into your customer opinions.
Yet, beware of trolls, fanboys, and scam. There are many cases where certain groups of users bluntly devalue the products of their beloved companies’ competitors.
A great example where this happened was when Microsoft and Sony released their new gaming consoles a couple of years ago. The communities of both ecosystems openly started the „console war“ and all famous internet trolls rated down each other’s systems on Amazon.
To sum things up: If you are using reviews to improve your products, make sure you only use accountable and real ones. An even better option to ask a long time and trusted users for an unbiased opinion.
One more issue you have to face is, how do you make sure to implement the most needed changes based on one user insights? Make sure to critically analyze trusted reviews. Then, sum them up in badges and evaluate which are needed most, easy to implement and have the biggest impact.
A quick detour to get the data
But how do you make sure you get enough reviews? To be able to have enough data to evaluate and implement great new features or to get rid of some issues.
What you can do is, basically to just ask your buyers.
Have an App? Add a “Please Review XYZ in the AppStore” function when the user opens the App. You’d be amazed at how many will write one.
Selling Fashion might be a little bit trickier in getting customer reviews. Here are two ways you can go for: If your company/brand owns flagship stores ask your (returning)-customers to take a quick survey to know how to improve your products. Hand them small benefits if they participate (e.g. 5% – 10% discount on their next buy online/offline). If you are only selling online you might want to use your social media channels to talk to them directly. Use stories to ask them to write a review.
Surveys and other direct contact methods
While Reviews are only accessible if your users either have the option to write one or if they are willing to, surveys or other direct contact methods (talking to them via phone, email or in-person) guarantee you an instant response to your most critical questions if done right. The simplest way to elevate survey data if you are an established company with a solid user/consumer base is to use email marketing methods (e.g. newsletters and follow-ups). If you want to build consumer-oriented products you always need to focus on your buyer’s needs. To make sure the product is perfectly suited for them.
Create some incentives like discounts, coupons, and bonuses to make sure your subscribers participate in the surveys. Since email marketing is still one major factor in communication design a portion of your resources should be focused on it.
Typical catchphrases like “Get 10% Off of your next order” as your tagline might still work, but aren’t always the best solution. Yet, together with something like “Why do you like us” or “Did we do something wrong” you can get consumers to rate your services and products in a precise, yet undisturbing way. There are some great tools out there that even can use for free to conduct your first survey. One we are using all the time is SurveyMonkey.
What to do with the data
As stated before, the elevated data is only worth it, if you are using it in the rights ways. You can use the following process to make sure you are building consumer-oriented products:
- The first thing you and your team need to do is to analyze the data first.
It basically is the foundation of the ongoing process to improve the products and services.
- Organize the data in predetermined badges. E.g. “Easy to implement”, “Most Critical”, “For future iterations”, “Interesting Ideas” or “Biggest Problems”.
- Start the iteration/alteration process together with the product team and add your “Most critical features” to your products.
- Reevaluate the improved product or services with your customers and users. Make sure these improvements had an impact on usage.
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