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Thinking again about market-creating innovations (2): Marketing Problems

Yesterday I drew on the work of Clayton Christensen and Efosa Ojomo to identify 5 causes of non-consumption of products or solutions:

  1. Lack of awareness of a product or solution;
  2. Lack of desire or will to obtain a solution;
  3. Lack of access to the solution;
  4. Lack of the resources – time, money, energy – needed to obtain or consume the solution;
  5. Lack of the skills needed to make use of an available solution.

Any one of these problems can stop people buying and using a product, and they’re all interlinked – which means that solving them will require a combination of technical, organisational/managerial, business model and marketing innovations.

Marketing Problems

The first two causes represent marketing and communication problems.*

Lack of awareness trumps all the others – unless the good can be passively consumed (if available), like clean air or chlorinated water.

Lack of desire for a product will prevent people from consuming an available solution at a given cost (of time, money, energy) and skill level – but good communication that convinces non-consumers of the product’s benefits could make the difference without any changes in cost. Prejudice (against the product, against the users or sellers of the product) could play a role here.

*Lack of desire may also indicate a quality problem – that is, people don’t want your product because (rightly or wrongly) they don’t think it’s worth the cost.

Key questions:

  • How can you get the word about your product out to non-consumers? Where will they hear about you?
  • Which voices or stories are most likely to reach and convince them?
  • How can you communicate (truthfully) about how your products will make a difference? Which needs and wants does your product meet?
  • How could you help the see the high costs of their current (less good) solutions?
  • What words and phrases do your target non-consumers use to talk about their needs and aspirations related to your solution?

If you feel uncomfortable about “marketing,” here are two questions for checking your integrity:

  1. Do I believe that the value of this solution is greater than what my target non-consumer will pay for it (in time, money, effort)?
  2. If I was them, and I knew what I know, would I still be happy if to buy this product?

Further reading:

Bernadette Jiwa on the New Marketing
Marketing archives

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...