How Do You Respond to Market Changes? Three Options

Situation: A company has a successful product, but the market is changing. Previous customers were savvy, but the market is shifting to more naïve customers who don’t understand how to use the product. How so you respond when the market for your product changes?

  • What you are seeing is a typical market evolution. (See Clayton Christensen’s book Crossing the Chasm.)
    • When a new product is introduced, early adopters are typically savvy users who quickly grasp the utility of the product. They don’t mind some inconvenience provided the product is useful.
    • As the market matures and starts to attract mainstream customers, new users will not be as sophisticated and expect the product to be easy to use.
    • If you don’t adapt to these new customers your product will languish as new competitors enter the market with user-friendly adaptations.
  • The path is clear. Figure out how to make your product easy to use. If you use a GUI (graphic user interface) make the GUI intuitive. Allow customers to get what they need with as few choices or clicks as possible.
    • These changes may alienate more sophisticated customers, but they usually only represent a small segment of your potential market.
  • Add a customer-friendly service component. This builds a service income base around the product. You have different options.
    • Align the customer with appropriate level of resource – you may not require high level resources to assist the customer, particularly if the product is one where the service consultant only needs to be one page ahead of the user.
    • Outsource the service component to a partner or use independent contractors.
  • Consider a remote monitor system:
    • A dashboard interface with easy to read visuals or messages that tell the customer when service is needed. This will enable them to perform simple maintenance using your tools, or alert them when they need to contact you for service.
    • An example is Norton’s evolving system of products that enables an unsophisticated home computer user to either use Norton tools to perform routine maintenance, or directs them to the Norton web site for assistance or more sophisticated solutions.

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