Is Your Product a ‘Refrigerator’?

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refrigerator-jtpedersenInteresting article: When your offering is like the fridge of the new kitchen. The gist of it is, how do you diversify your product/service offering, if it’s basically taken for granted?  People simply expect it to be there, keeping things chilled, perhaps with water/ice dispenser, but otherwise not the key item around which major decisions are based.

The author provides 4 means for diversifying your offering, improving its appeal:

  • Price: stand out by a low price given a certain quality
  • High quality: stand out with a high quality claim (long lasting, low power consumption, …)
  • Design: stand out by great design (which can be copied within months by competitors)
  • Brand name: have the brand name support the perceived differentiation and quality.

There is one more option I’d like to add: Partnerships.  While potential partners may well evaluate you in light of the preceding options, this 5th option, Partnering, can also have strong impact.

While the ‘fridge may be just a part, as part of a formal solution, it has a much better of a chance for acceptance.

As consumers, individuals or businesses, we routinely see value in bundles, solutions, and packages, of complimentary offerings.  Think of an office suite.  The architect, designer, or office furniture manufacturer, may have already chosen wall coverings, desk, chairs, book cases, credenza, and more, such that they all look and function together beautifully.  You can browse a brochure, find the overall solution you like best, and select it.  Much easier for you, and the component manufacturers, than having to evaluate, buy, and sell each component individually.

Partners will often build features into their respective offerings to lever features of the other partners. This synergistic dependence motivates each partner to promote each other’s solutions.  In some cases, a symbiotic relationship evolves.

For instance, Autodesk’s AutoCAD engineering design software is as valuable as a platform as it is a stand-alone design tool.  Why?  Because thousands of independent software companies develop their own solutions on top of the platform.  Consider a high-end graphic visualization product.  Their value is in design visualization, not creation.  AutoCAD provides for creation of the design…then they do the higher-end visualization.  Both are needed to deliver the final result (solution) and neither can do it alone.

There are countless other examples.  Two obvious ones include Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and related Apps; and, Microsoft’s Windows and the applications that run atop it.

Even in the event another player may not be ‘aware’ of the other (think Windows and a small independent application), partnering can be immensely valuable.

(photo credit: Marcelo Moura)