Un-met Vs. un-articulated customer needs and sustainable business growth


Imagine your ideal world as a marketer: customers know what they want and told you all about it before saying it to your competitors.

Keep dreaming!


There are at least two false assumptions in this way of thinking:

Customers know what they want: for sure - they always ask you for a better and cheaper version of the current solution to their ‘perceived’ problem which is your existing product.

You answer this requirement by innovating (your product/processes) by adopting the latest best practices and technologies emerging in your industry.

An incremental solution for an incremental requirement.

Incremental improvements are essential to the competitive advantage of any organisation, but they are limited to the current framing or understanding of the customer’s problem.

It’s your role as a manager (intrapreneur) is to shift the perception of the customer problem.

An example: before luggage was on wheels, customers wanted a lighter but more resistant and weatherproof suitcase with an ergonomic shape. All of this is the results of incremental thinking, starting with the idea of carrying luggage. But opportunities for organic growth rarely come from progressive thinking.

Customers weren’t able to tell they wanted luggage on wheels because unable to shift their understanding of the problem from handling luggage to mobility.

Creativity, the most neglected, ignored and frequently condemned human ability in management has become, in the latest ten years, the only source of sustainable business growth.

The second bias in the way we think ad managers, is to believe customers tell us all about their needs, even before saying that to our competitors.

The marketing of many organisations is a monologue, companies inform their customers of the next big thing: the new line of product, a promotion, etc.

Co-creation - inviting a set of your customers to contribute to the conceptualisation of your next product is a must. Despite that, many organisations can’t overcome their ego in doing so.


Let me conclude this post with an observation. What is the point to invite customers to co-create a product if they don’t know what they need?

Simple, you don’t have to ask them anything - you just need to observe their behaviours.

The clues for disruptive innovations are un-articulated, not spoken; it’s your job as a creative thinker to skim the obvious and access the undisclosed.


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STEFANO MESSORI - DESIGN STRATEGIST - REMOTE TRAINER & FACILITATOR - DUBLIN (IRELAND)

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