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Simple formulas for building a successful product with lessons from shoes of prey
11 May, 2021

Simple formulas for building a successful product with lessons from shoes of prey

How can one build a successful product? It goes deep into the product skeleton, and there's a catch the customers. Will people be willing to pay for it?
This is the first question one needs to ask before building that next billion-dollar product. Some entrepreneurs don't take this seriously most likely because of positive things friends, family, and well-wishers said about it. At the end of the day, time and money got wasted building products only close relatives could buy.
To build a successful product, work with the right people
Behind every successful product is a team passionate about it. Whether you want to learn more about your target market, launch an MVP or create something for the fun of it, do it with the right people. People better at it and share same goal with you. This may look like a threat especially once it boils down to delegation, that not it. It translates nicely to your success as a person and helps shape your career path as you learn more from your team and vice-versa. This is why one needs to see the right people as a strong foundation to build winning products.  By surrounding yourself with the right people, they can easily share their success and positive vibes while you naturally do the same.
Do not build a product based on what people say
These days, one can easily conduct surveys to access tons of information on consumers to build out products they can actually pay for. These insights hold keys to what consumers want and their intent.
BUT, don't rely too much on this data because . . .
As tech entrepreneurs, we rely heavily on surveys to validate our product idea when we look at a certain market and follow up its pattern from the ground to the top, we got convinced that there is a high demand for such products, then we go into making such products available to the market. Does this guarantee successful sales for this particular product? Absolutely no!
Let's take for instance the product personalization niche. The customization niche is made up of creative people who enjoy wearing something unique. Giving them the tools to customize their own e.g. shoes, does not guarantee they'll pay for it.
Startups like Shoes of Prey had a taste of this, contrary to their market research the fashion customer within the mass market space just didn't respond as they expected. What could have gone wrong?
“Would the mass-market fashion customer also want to customize their shoes?” Michael Fox, CEO of Shoes of Prey asked. Off they went and conducted market research through their target customer and few strategic partners like David Jones and Nordstrom. The response was “Yes” if they;
1.     Reduce lead times to under 2 weeks
2.    Simplify the shoe design experience
However, mass-market customers think more about product choices and timeframes than any other market segment. Reducing the lead times to under 2 weeks may not likely float. A three days lead time seems ideal but how possible will this be for the personalization niche. In a nutshell, products within the customization niche will mostly fail to crack the mass-market adoption craze.  
Look for a unique model, approach or process to stand out in
As companies invest more resource to simplify their user experience, going beyond simplifying user experiences may likely be an advantage. One can intertwine some features that center around user engagement by incorporating natural behaviors into an experience. This is likely to influence user choices as they casually engage and interact with these experiences. Once a product manager focuses on getting these experiences right, the team is on the right track.
Understand your customers behavior
 Mass market adopters seem not to have an emotional attachment to both product and brand. They typically respond to price so it's a challenge to prove that mass-market adopters will be willing to pay more at a large enough scale to cover operations. To successfully build a product for the mass adopters, don't try to change this behavior. If one finds herself in a position where there is need to change mass market behavior, understand their psychology in detail.
According to Shoes of Prey's goodbye message written by Michael Fox, mass market customer told them they wanted to customize if they improved their value proposition in the 4 areas. What they were consciously telling them and what they subconsciously wanted were effectively polar opposites, Michael Fox said. They listened to what the mass market customer told them, verified with their strategic partners that they were hearing the same thing, then accepted it.
Obviously, mass market customers mostly want to be inspired by trends and shown by celebrities and influencers exactly what to wear down to the style and brand. So, if one must alter this behavior, first peel back the layers of psychology to understand what a customer truly wants. This type of customer research is difficult to get right and the results aren't always clear cut so don't try to alter it. One way get is all wrong is by only listening to customers as opposed to balancing that with data and experiments. Twitter did the opposite and solved one of its oldest problems.
Therefore, balance customers opinion with data and experiments. Sometimes, these data aren't common to find especially if one has no customer base. With analytics tools, data harvesting banks, one can have access to the customer behaviors or that of its competitors. Such data have traces of complaints and behaviors that may likely give clues on what and how to build out products they can go for.
Now, what do you want to build? Let's get you started!
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