Product research | Why should who want what?
Why do we say thirst for knowledge, hunger for success, taste for curiosity? Perhaps we use terms from the world of eating, drinking and sensual enjoyment because we want to express the power of these needs. And that works very well with words of desire. So it’s no coincidence that product finders must also have a thirst for knowledge, a hunger for success, and a taste for curiosity.
Creating what is desirable
Product researchers and scouts are ordinary people with an extraordinary feel for what other ordinary people find desirable. Product discovery involves not only creativity, speed and a feel for trends, but also very good analytical skills and sound judgment. In addition, it is important to learn from failures in order to be even better and more successful in finding new products in the future. It is important to be able to put ideas and decisions to the test again and again and to act on the basis of the knowledge gained.
It is crucial to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes. In addition to empathy, life experience, a love of the subject matter and openness, product scouts also need the will to be first. Example: Let’s say there’s the 1,000th new whisk. As a professional, I have to find out whether it has a function that other whisks don’t have. I have to find out whether and what unique benefit this whisk brings to my target group.
Courage to enter new product areas
Researchers and other innovators with new ideas are familiar with this situation: They present an idea and instead of enthusiasm they first receive a lot of skepticism. Doesn’t that already exist? Who needs it? Hasn’t a similar idea already failed?
It takes courage to enter new product areas, to try out trends, or, if necessary, to try out products and product categories again with today’s knowledge. Because nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come. But walking on paths that have not been trodden requires stamina in the face of headwinds. You also have to be able to critically question and correct yourself again and again.
Offer real solutions to problems
The solution to a known problem can arouse desire. Product finders, therefore, need knowledge about how certain items work, as well as background knowledge about the context in which they are used. For example, if I know how time-consuming it is to prepare stock and how long it takes to prepare it, it helps me to offer a finished stock as a problem solver. I thus offer a “high-quality product” and “save” the customer hours of cooking. If I don’t know, I’m not offering an adequate product to my customers either, and I’m missing the opportunity to generate sales.
After more than 25 ½ years, I am still amazed at how many companies (be it the manufacturers themselves, but also the buyers on the retail side) are not sufficiently familiar with the benefits that the products bring to the target group. This is then reflected in marketing and communication. For example, a product is simply described by the manufacturer instead of advertising the concrete benefits for the target groups: “Electric steamer” instead of, it would be better: “Electric steamer: Fast and easy vitamin- and aroma-preserving cooking”. At a discount grocery store some time ago, you could read posters like “Great non-food promotion” instead of “30% off everything except food and drink.”
Suppliers need to make it clear and experiential why customers should buy the product. They should know the needs (“Needs” and “Insights”), i.e. look into the heads and hearts of the people to then be able to make a suitable offer. This includes details such as the materials used, dimensions, weight, additional benefits, and anything else that can be useful.
Selling with knowledge and passion
Even for dealers and manufacturers seemingly self-evident things can be valuable. For example, the product is particularly narrow or particularly light, is stored on rollers, enables easy cleaning of the floor … One should never assume that customers will already find out what their advantage is. Most people don’t have the time or the inclination for that in their everyday lives. However, product marketing and communication should highlight the benefits and be “appealing” not only in the text but also in the images. If a special pan can conjure up perfect fried potatoes, it is best to show it with perfectly browned fried potatoes instead of a cropped image.
Again, the prerequisite is that I, as the product finder, have some cooking know-how. I have to know how elaborate or complicated it is to make a dish myself, what the individual steps are. I myself must have a certain passion for and knowledge of things in order to be able to put them out with success. This is just as important as the ability to research and find out the specifics. This simply requires fun and curiosity and – until I have built up my know-how – a lot of time. This brings us full circle.
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