How to fall in love with a product

Recently our publisher, Berrett-Koehler, asked us to contribute to their blog by commenting on what it takes to fall in love with a product.  Naturally, we thought about what it takes to fall in love with a person, and what it takes to maintain a long, healthy and rewarding relationship.  Think through the sequence of experiences people have when falling in love, and see how that sequence actually plays out for products:

 

Casual interactions (otherwise known as dating)

At the outset of any relationship, certain details can get things started, or prevent them from getting going.  Looks, for example; but of course it goes beyond looks.  Each and every interaction of the potential customer with the product or service is a touchpoint, a point at which that potential customer may receive value.  Since the product’s appearance creates emotional takeaways for customers, whether planned or unplanned by the company, the design of each aspect of the product form should be intentional and calculated as a means to deliver specific and desired emotions.  The same is true with other points of interaction.

 

A courtship where initial attraction turns to love (the getting to know someone or some thing for more serious consideration)

If a customer is going to get serious, the product has to really deliver.  But it has to do more than deliver on a performance task.  The customer will really get serious when the product doesn’t just do the right things, but it makes them feel the right ways.  And feeling is what it takes for them to fall in love, which leads to…

 

Engagement

Once engaged, people are attached. Once attached, people are engaged. Emotions reach us deeply, engaging us to respond. It is emotion that instigates people to tell others about the products that they own, creating word of mouth that is the most powerful marketing force in today’s networked marketplace. Brides show off their rings; engaged customers show off the products that they love.

 

Long term commitment… and satisfaction

In the committed relationship, one with daily interaction, positive (or negative) emotions are maintained and renewed with each experience, eventually outweighing those felt early in the relationship.  In the same way, product emotions are ongoing, substantiated and renewed with each product experience, and product emotions have the power to completely replace emotions surrounding the original purchase decision.  So unlike the emotions designed to get a quick sale, here today and gone tomorrow, product emotions are the “feel-good” aspect of the product, those that endure for the lifetime of product use and maintain loyalty.

 

Becomes an extension of who you are… and part of your identity

Just as there is a oneness in marriage, where each person becomes part of the other, captivating products become part of the customer’s identity, a badge of who they are.  Some people are iPhones, others are Blackberries.  Some are Starbucks, others are Dunkin’ Donuts.  It wouldn’t feel right to have it any other way.

 

Can’t see yourself happy without it

As people in love anticipate and expect their time to be spent together in order to be happy, so is the relationship between the happy consumer and his or her product.  People who fall in love with a product can’t see themselves without it.. providing strong impetus for eventual re-purchase of that product, as it wears.

The Berrett-Koehler post (and discussion) can be found at: http://bklists.blogspot.com/2010/09/i-think-i-love-you.html

 

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