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We can’t “create the need” for products people don’t want to buy.
This week we moved into product strategy and, boy, did we cover a lot of ground. We learned how to evaluate a new market opportunity and enter a market, how market disruption works, the product adoption lifecycle and the evolution of feature positioning over time.
I have long been drawn to strategy and much of my job revolves around strategic planning, so I was looking forward to this class.
We started the discussion by reviewing Porter’s 5 Forces. Business students should be familiar with Michael Porter, a Harvard Professor, and his framework for evaluating a market you’re considering entering. According to Porter, there are 5 forces to first consider:
- Bargaining power of suppliers
- Threat of substitutes
- Bargaining power of buyers
- Threat of new entrants
- Industry rivalry
This seemed simple enough, but after the class was divided into groups and challenged with evaluating the market entrance for the Tesla Powerwall it was clear that this exercise was a bit more complex than debating what Elon Musk eats for breakfast.
My group and I had to examine and identify the bargaining power of suppliers and soon found ourselves stumped. Enter the World Wide Web. With a few simple searches we were able to at the very least list off some of the key components of the Powerwall and brainstorm the bargaining power behind each of them.
However, it was clear that during our 5-10 minute brainstorm we had only barely reached the tip of the iceberg. The takeaway – at least for me – was that it takes ample time to thoroughly evaluate a new market opportunity. I’m sure Tesla spent months, maybe even years, evaluating the market for the Powerwall.
We then reviewed pricing strategies and learned about Geoffrey Moore’s Chasm Model, exploring the adoption lifecycle. This led into the fascinating world of disruptive innovation (think Apple, Uber, Airbnb, etc).
Once a disruptor comes along it’s hard to imagine life before them. For example, when Apple introduced the iPod, the world of music listening was never the same. All of a sudden you could easily carry all of your favourite hits with you anywhere you went and listen to them anytime you wanted. The need to lug around CDs and disk players or hope that the radio star played one of your favourite tunes next instantly vanished.
There are basic, performance and exciter features that a product can or should satisfy, according to the Kano model. To illustrate, with the advent of the iPod, Apple successfully transformed having your favourite music readily available at all times from an exciter to a basic need, virtually overnight.
Considering the Kano model, we were again divided into groups and tasked with brainstorming the basic, performance and delighter features of one of the most cherished valuables of all time: pizza. The class seemed to have an easier time with this activity, leaving us all confident in our newly acquired knowledge and understanding about product strategy, and hungrier than ever.
It’s been a slice…until next time!