— Mark Henry (@Mark_J_Henry) November 12, 2014
I love this tweet! It sums up the opportunity for new product and service development beautifully. Here at Forward Partners we often talk about backing companies building amazing products and brands that people will love, and when we’re talking with companies we always ask how they know customers will think their products are amazing. Good answers show an understanding of how people will use their products and how they think about the alternatives. In particular they show an understanding of the emotions surrounding their product category. A product is amazing when it evokes emotion.
The example above says that it’s better to ‘design a better way for people to enjoy flowers in the home’ than to ‘design a new vase’. Firstly I like the tightness of the definition – it’s not just a vase, it’s a vase for flowers, in the home. It’s better to start with an amazing product in a smaller market and then grow the market than start with an average product for a huge market and try to improve the product. Secondly, the purpose is clear – it’s to increase enjoyment. When you frame the problem in this way the importance of understanding how people currently enjoy flowers in the home become clear. If the challenge is described as ‘design a new vase’ then it’s too easy to focus on aesthetics and ignore the use cases. Too many product designers make this mistake, which is why our homes are filled with products we don’t use. It doesn’t have to be that way.