September 9

Value Exchange Through Experimentation and Innovation​


by Chijioke for ProductDive

There is a difference between building because you can build and building because this is what the customer wants. This probably was the problem of Sony in their Walkman glory days.

Sony was building beautiful products in and out. Take the Walkman as an example. They pioneered that space, though driven by design and quality. Then Apple came out with the iPod, this challenged the Walkman. Then there were other more low-end brands selling for cheaper.

Sony with the Walkman got stuck in the middle. They wanted to play in the high-end space with the iPod. Also, they didn’t have an ecosystem and content. So they got very product orientated. Focused on building products with amazing designs (nothing particularly wrong here) but this, of course, would have led to higher price fixes that were noncompetitive and not feasible at the time.

They were building Walkman in an era that customers were exposed to “a thousand songs in your pocket” devices. It was a market that was fizzling out.

This can be particularly an issue with tangible products. Once they are built, they are built. Then you ship. Literally. A lot can change while that product is in transit.

If this happens today, what would they have done differently? What would you do differently?

Surveys and ads could be a way to get a signal of intent. Do customers still want to engage with this product as it is? Ads and smoke tests (having probably a single landing page ) with a clear call to action.

Set parameters in advance that will be used to validate the experiment. What’s the percentage difference between those visiting the page and those signing up or dropping their details to be contacted later. Signups are a clear call of action.

If you’re not getting as much as you desire, then it could be a signal to go back to the drawing board.

Be data-driven and also data-inspired. Be aware of what’s going on at the macro and micro level across industries and the competition.

So basically, building and selling is a value exchange. You want something. Your customers want something. Being empathetic allows you to know what the customers want through rapid experimentation. Learning fast what the customers want will, in turn, help you get what you want. This way a balance is created that embraces innovation.

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