The Importance of Needs-Based Products and Services is
written for would-be entrepreneurs, small business owners and other
non-marketing types who want to start up or grow their businesses but don't
know how. The topic of discussion is the importance of basing products
and services on specific customer needs. The article covers product focus
vs. customer focus, how the focus affects planning strategies, and how
to define the customer and need of an existing product.
Designing marketable products and services is tricky business. Product
failure is common and hits all types of companies. Well capitalized,
global businesses, middle market players and niche market entrepreneurs
have all funneled resources into product ideas that have little chance
There are two essential questions of product/service development:
What problem does this product solve? Who exactly has this problem? The
answers will be the foundation for refinement of the product concept and
development of marketing strategies. In order to sell a product or
service, you have to know who is going to buy it and why. Seemingly
obvious, these questions are often overlooked by enthusiastic entrepreneurs.
A product idea has a way of blinding those involved in it. Our faith
in its marketability is so strong that we overlook contrary evidence or
fail to examine the meaningful details. Business owners and executives
may spend hundreds of hours analyzing the wrong things, only to be
faced with disappointing sales when the product or service is launched.
This is often the result of focusing on the product itself and overlooking
A strong emphasis on the needs-based aspects of the product/service,
from conception through launch and beyond, is critical to avoiding this
pitfall. Marketable product and service ideas must address a specific
customer need. This need may be existing in the marketplace, or it may
be created by the advent of the product. The fax machine, for example,
was developed to address a need for faster document transmission. On the
other hand, the range of new-generation digital products available
today - DVRs, iPODs and the like - have created a new set of needs, based
on more general desires for convenience and mobility.
The answers to "What problem does this product solve?" and "Who
exactly has this problem?" should form the basis for your core
product/service concept. If you can't define a specific need and customer
associated with your product, consider it a red flag. Go back to the drawing
board and fine tune the concept with your customer's needs in mind.