There was a great article this month in Inc Magazine titled “Why Better Products Don’t Always Win“. In the article, the authors lay out some background on products considered best that did not win in the market, conditions where the “best” product can win, and what entrepreneurs can do to build a great business around an average product. It is a good read.
Having said that, can you define what “best” means in terms of “the best product”. I was in a market for years dominated by three innovative companies all striving to have the best product. In fact, if you asked each company’s customers, they would tell you that they bought the best product. Go figure. We all had the best product!
This is a key point as you evaluate what your product needs to be. Take Chevrolet vs. Ford. They both tell you that they have the best pickup truck. Ask most Chevy truck owners and they will agree, Chevy makes the best truck. Now ask most Ford truck owners and they will agree, Ford hast the best truck! How can that be?
From a product perspective, each product was best for those owners. What seems a great feature to a Chevy buyer may not resonate at all with the Ford buyer. Where the logic breaks down is in thinking that the product alone was the only factor in the purchase. In the Chevy vs. Ford example, other factors probably include, at a minimum; value of the trade-in offered, terms of the financing, perceived skill of the service department etc. In fact I will argue that many “passionate” buyers become passionate only after buying the product. Think of it as self justification. “I made the best decision for me so this is the best product”.
As you build your product, do not focus just on the product itself but on the buying process and the buying factors included. How do your buyers make their selection? What non product factors will come into play? How is your overall offering differentiated in the market? These questions will go a long way in guiding your choices and decisions.