What Customers Want from Your Products

17 Jan 2006 - 1:48pm
8 years ago
6 replies
489 reads
Lada Gorlenko
2004

A recent Harvard Business Review article, "Marketing Malpractice: The
Cause and the Cure," argues that the marketer's task is to understand
the job the customer wants to get done, and design products and brands
that fill that need.

"If marketers understand each of these dimensions [social, functional,
and emotional], then they can design a product that's precisely
targeted to the job."

Err... Okay, the example discussed in the excerpt is milk shake, but
how far would you stretch the claim?

http://snipurl.com/lnop

Lada

Comments

17 Jan 2006 - 2:02pm
Somoza, Kirsten...
2006

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

A recent Harvard Business Review article, "Marketing Malpractice: The
Cause and the Cure," argues that the marketer's task is to understand
the job the customer wants to get done, and design products and brands
that fill that need.

"If marketers understand each of these dimensions [social, functional,
and emotional], then they can design a product that's precisely targeted
to the job."

>>Actually, I would argue that Marketing's job is more often to sell
"ice to the Eskimos", as the saying goes. They're handed a product,
hopefully the product manager has designed it around the right users,
and marketing must then go get the word out and make people want to buy
it. If the product managers, designers, and developers have done a good
job, this job will be easier and the product should sell itself. If not,
marketing's job becomes decidedly more difficult and they have to try to
"create a need".

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17 Jan 2006 - 4:42pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

At 02:02 PM 1/17/2006, Somoza, Kirsten Carroll wrote:
> >>Actually, I would argue that Marketing's job is more often to sell
>"ice to the Eskimos", as the saying goes. They're handed a product,
>hopefully the product manager has designed it around the right users,
>and marketing must then go get the word out and make people want to buy
>it. If the product managers, designers, and developers have done a good
>job, this job will be easier and the product should sell itself. If not,
>marketing's job becomes decidedly more difficult and they have to try to
>"create a need".

This very much depends on the role of marketing within the organization.
You can't generalize what a "marketing person" does any more than you can
generalize what a "designer" does.

The nature, culture, and processes of the organization dictates what people
with the title of marketing actually do.

At 01:48 PM 1/17/2006, Lada Gorlenko wrote:
>"If marketers understand each of these dimensions [social, functional,
>and emotional], then they can design a product that's precisely
>targeted to the job."
>
>Err... Okay, the example discussed in the excerpt is milk shake, but
>how far would you stretch the claim?

Having spent a lot of time with HBS folks over the years, it is my opinion
that the phrase "marketer" doesn't mean "a person from the marketing
department." Instead, I think they mean it to be "organization that sells
to customers." (Or, in some cases, the people who make those decisions
within the organization, which would include designers.)

So, would you still have problems if the sentence read: "If organizations
understand each of these dimensions [social, functional, and emotional],
then they can design a product that's precisely targeted to the job."?

Jared

Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
978 777-9123 jspool at uie.com http://www.uie.com
Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks

17 Jan 2006 - 11:21pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

...and so the pendulum swings....

In the dark past we often described product success as "Building a better
mousetrap". In recent years we have focused more on "Know thy customer"
(personas, market segments, etc.) Perhaps this article is a
re-articulation of "functionality" - or "purposefulness" - as a primary
determinant of successful design.

Yes, personas & market segmentation are cool - but this article implies
that we need to revisit our assumptions about the "job" (i.e. task/goal)
that the customer wants to accomplish.

The Miracle of the Web was initially based on hyperlink-oriented 'browsing"
behavior. As it matures, the Web demands more "purposeful",
goal/task-oriented, app-like behavior.

Thumbs up from me on the article. Here's a synopsis quote from the final
paragraph:
"Why do so many marketers try to understand the consumer rather than the
job? [In the past] the job was so closely aligned with the customer
demographic that if you understood the customer, you would also understand
the job. This coincidence is rare, however. All too frequently, marketers'
focus on the customer causes them to target phantom needs."

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lada Gorlenko" <lada at acm.org>
To: <discuss at ixdg.org>
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 1:48 PM
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] What Customers Want from Your Products

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> A recent Harvard Business Review article, "Marketing Malpractice: The
> Cause and the Cure," argues that the marketer's task is to understand
> the job the customer wants to get done, and design products and brands
> that fill that need.
>
> "If marketers understand each of these dimensions [social, functional,
> and emotional], then they can design a product that's precisely
> targeted to the job."
>
> Err... Okay, the example discussed in the excerpt is milk shake, but
> how far would you stretch the claim?
>
> http://snipurl.com/lnop
>
> Lada
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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18 Jan 2006 - 10:00am
Chris Jackson
2006

John Vaughan wrote:
>
> Yes, personas & market segmentation are cool - but this article implies
> that we need to revisit our assumptions about the "job" (i.e. task/goal)
> that the customer wants to accomplish.
>

This reminds me of Larry Constantine and Lucy Lockwood's "usage-centered design," which worked quite well when I was able to apply it at a previous employer for a couple of smaller web-based applications.

>From http://foruse.com/questions/index.htm:

"What's the difference between usage-centered design and user-centered design?

In usage-centered design the focus is on usage--on the work users are doing and the tasks they are trying to accomplish. Users, rather than being the center of attention, are involved in limited and highly focused ways to help designers build tools that will better support the work being done. For more on the distinctions, see the paper on Usage-Centered Engineering for Web Applications."

Unfortunately, their site has not been updated in a few years.

--

Chris Jackson
Information Architect
Networked Information Services
Boston University

19 Jan 2006 - 1:14am
Adam Korman
2004

> Yes, personas & market segmentation are cool - but this article
> implies
> that we need to revisit our assumptions about the "job" (i.e. task/
> goal)
> that the customer wants to accomplish.

One of the most important things about using personas effectively is
to focus on how their goals are representative of users, not how
their personal characteristics are representative of market segments.
This seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding by many people who
encounter the idea of personas -- they seem to latch on to the idea
that personas are people and humanize the design process (good!), so
therefore they must reflect the demographics/phsychographic of the
people who use the product. When personas are created with market
segmentation data as the primary input (and/or with a specific intent
to be directly representative of that data), they usually are not
very effective as a design tool.

Unfortunately this all misses the point of personas, which is
primarily to identify goals and usage patterns. When the focus is on
the personas' goals, they are a great tool to help do precisely what
the article argues for (do goal-directed design, rather than just
gather a deep understanding of customer characteristics).

-Adam

20 Jan 2006 - 1:06pm
Doug Anderson
2004

Hi Lada,

That's why I eschew "user-centered design" in favor of "use-centered design". It's not just about the user, but it is about the user, their goals (the job, in the parlance of the article), and their context of use - which context potentially includes a non-user customer.

I don't see the article's point as a claim, but rather a well-supported observation. As such, there's nothing to stretch. I think the article's focus on the job to be filled is intended as a contrast to an alternate focus on market segments to be addressed. I don't believe that focus implies that the authors think the user/customer is to be ignored. Therefore, I agree with the point the authors are making.

So, as to stretching, I think the point of the article applies broadly, not only to milkshakes, and not only to products but to services as well.

Peace,
Doug

Opinions expressed are necessarily mine and not necessarily those of the Mayo Foundation.

Original message:
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2006 18:48:54 +0000
From: Lada Gorlenko <lada at acm.org>
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] What Customers Want from Your Products
To: discuss at ixdg.org
Message-ID: <1839844722.20060117184854 at acm.org>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

A recent Harvard Business Review article, "Marketing Malpractice: The
Cause and the Cure," argues that the marketer's task is to understand
the job the customer wants to get done, and design products and brands
that fill that need.

"If marketers understand each of these dimensions [social, functional,
and emotional], then they can design a product that's precisely
targeted to the job."

Err... Okay, the example discussed in the excerpt is milk shake, but
how far would you stretch the claim?

http://snipurl.com/lnop

Lada

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