Customer Focus

There’s a commonly held misconception that a new product should be targeted at as large a group as possible. I used to think this - until my friend made me realise how dumb I was.

I’ll take Malcolm Gladwell’s example of coffee. I could create a new blend of coffee which I think everyone will like, but when I ask people’s opinions the approval rating is only around 50-60%. How could this be?

The answer is pretty damned obvious - not everyone likes the same stuff. We are human beings, with individual tastes and biases. Even Coke isn’t liked by everyone. But Coca-Cola are smart, and they realised this a long time ago. You don’t like classic Coke? No problem, have Diet. You don’t like Diet? Have Coke Zero. In this way Coca-Cola manages to capture more of the market than it could possibly hope for with a single product.

Since an entrepreneur only has limited resources they’re unlikely to launch with more than one product, so they have to carefully pick their target consumers. There’s no point in targeting everyone, because a product with a 50% approval rating isn’t going to set the world alight. But if you can create a product which 10% of people think is fantastic, then you’re on to a winner.

This is because the world is full of mediocre, generic crap. If somebody feels like a product has been designed especially for them then they’re going to buy it. And they’ll tell their buddies who might also buy it. If that happens, then you’re on the path to success.