Thinking again about market-creating innovations (3): Access Problems

This series draws on the work of Clayton Christensen and Efosa Ojomo and Karen Dillon to identify the causes of non-consumption of products or other solutions. Start here.

In my first post I identified two barriers to consumption that I think can be helpfully grouped as access problems: distribution problems and skill problems. I’m still working through the best way to organise them, so forgive me if I play around a bit with the category names here.

1. Availability Barriers

These are several varieties of what what Christensen, Ojomo and Dillon call “access” problems: the product simply isn’t available to people. These include:

  • No product – the product to meet a particular need (e.g. high quality children’s reading books in cultures with only a short history of literacy) don’t (yet) exist.
  • Scarcity – there is simply not enough of the product to go around (e.g. vaccine shortages).
  • Distribution – the product exists but is effectively unavailable to people who would otherwise consume it because it can’t reach them. This might be because of a lack of a proven market (so no-one is selling it) or because of infrastructure or logistical challenges, or because crime prevents it from reaching consumers.
  • Other restrictions – including legal barriers (the product is illegal or heavily taxed), licensing requirements or other social pressures outside the consumer (i.e. the consumer would somehow be restricted from consuming the product even if they wanted to – not to be confused with the will or desire problem).

2. Useability Barriers

  • Skill barriers – as identified by Christensen, Ojomo and Dillon, the non-consumer lacks the skills required to make use of a product. Examples of this include literacy and computer literacy, or the ability to speak a particular language to access a product, or a level of skill required to make good use of a particular tool.
  • Capability barriers* – these are barriers that are more innate to the non-consumer that typically come under the category of “accessibility” – I’m avoiding the term to avoid confusion with “Access” in post 1. This includes use requirements like being able bodied or sighted, or being a certain size, or having a certain degree of physical strength.

Using these Lenses

Examine these barriers one by one for your product. Which of them apply? Which have the greatest impact? How do they overlap and work together? Which is the easiest to address in your market?

See also:

Thinking again about market-creating innovations (1)
Thinking again about market-creating innovations (2): Marketing Problems

Efosa Ojomo on market-creating innovation and overcoming barriers to consumption (1)
Clayton Christensen: Jobs to be done (1)
Resources: Clayton Christensen on disruptive innovation
Clayton Christensen, Efosa Ojomo and Karen Dillon on integrating inputs

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