“Why can’t we sell this great product?”

It’s a common problem and a common question that people in companies ask all the time “why can’t we sell this thing?”

Imagine this scenario: The customers are crying out for this innovative product, focus groups all indicated they want it too, the company spends a long time developing it, management is excited, the marketing team is ramping up campaign activities and the sales people are chomping at the bit to sell it.

The product is released, it hits the market, the company holds its breath and then, there’s a deafening silence, or, at best, a very low murmur from consumers. Take up is slow, consumers are confused, sluggish sales start journalists asking whats happening and management starts asking questions.

So what to do?

Give up, scrap the product, or push on?

Scrapping the product is an option. Recently, despite much fan-fare Google has essentially deleted it’s Wave product, but there is another option. Just because you can scrap the product doesn’t mean you should.

It may sound counter intuitive, but what about producing a more expensive, but substantially similar, product? It may sound like madness, but, particularly when a company is launching a brand new product in a new market creating your own competitor may make more sense than otherwise first thought.

It could just be that consumers are confused about the benefits of the product, and why they need it. When they see one product it’s an anomaly, when they see two similar products (but one drastically more expensive than the other) there must be a lot of people buying them, surely – why else would there be two products? Many consumers don’t like the idea of missing out, and thus sales may pick up, word starts to spread as people start talking about their brand new product, which they ‘love’ (because who really wants to admit they made a bad purchasing decision), and things start to turn around.

Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, explores this very topic by talking about it being important that consumers must have comparable choices to make better decisions.

Giving consumers more than just a simple ‘buy it or don’t’ choice, giving them alternative entry points, mitigates the feelings of ‘why would I want that product?’ and shifts it to a situation of multiple layer empowerment the first question may be the same but when there’s two or three products that original question’s power and authority may be mentally stymied by ‘which product is best for me?’

‘Which product is best for me?’ is a more profitable question than ‘why should I buy it?’

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