For quite some time, we’ve been comparing your product to an “egg!” What we’re saying is that there is really little difference in products competing in the same category. They work in the same fundamental way and generate the same basic outcomes—regardless of your category! Consequently, in this “age of sameness and abundance” where generally acceptable quality (GAQ) reigns, target-customers commoditize your offering. After all, they’re all perceived as basically the same or acceptable.
Therefore, we’ve been urging marketers to get beyond the product they sell and think about the customer experience they deliver. We start by strategizing how we want to serve-up that egg (the brand idea and positioning strategy), so it is perceived as better or meaningfully different and preferred versus other offerings in your category by a select target-customer segment. The brand idea sets the stage for the intended customer experience. We then work back to engineer the “whole product,” which consists of the physical product AND intangibles, to deliver the experience, consistent with the brand idea and positioning strategy.
However, our focus on the brand idea, whole product and experience should not be construed as abandoning the egg—your physical product. Products can be improved, and we should strive to make them better. If not, our competition will find a way to outdo us and win the contest for customers.
Let’s take ice cream as an example of improving the physical product and with it the customer experience. First, there was “ice cream,” then “premium” ice cream then “super-premium” ice cream. What’s next? Jenni’s Splendid Ice Creams, that’s what’s now!
Jenni’s offers unique, tantalizing flavor sensations such as Darkest Chocolate, Pickled Mango, Queen City Cayenne, Sweet Corn and Blackberries, Middle West Whiskey and Pecans, and Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, among many others. In addition to its artisanal flavors, Jenni’s produces sinfully delicious ice cream through sourcing milk from a family farm in Ohio’s Appalachian region and the way they scent and process the butterfat to lock-in flavor and aroma that’s released as it melts on your tongue. Additionally, according to jennis.com, the texture of the ice cream is “going to feel smooth as a baby’s butt, with the body of a brick house.” My oh my! It’s better ice cream in many ways because Jenni’s proprietary offerings are crafted with special attention to flavor, texture and body, and finish.
OK, so what about the egg? Can we possibly make the egg better? It depends upon what we mean by “better” and for whom. For those consumers who care for animal welfare, humane farming
According to the Vital Farms website:
“Every single one of our eggs comes from Certified Humane pasture-raised hens, and that’s just as good as it sounds!
It also means our hens get a minimum of 108sqft of pasture to roam, and they sure love to roam.
Because the girls keep the pastures fertilized themselves, and regular rotation keeps the pastures healthy and covered in fresh grass, we never need to use any harmful chemicals on any of our farms.
Our girls love the naturally varied diet that they get to forage all year round, and we know that you’ll taste the difference in the eggs that they lay!”
What comes first, the chicken or the egg? We’ve been down this road before, and we declared that it depends, but we do know why the chicken crossed the road! However, in the case of Vital Farms, the chicken comes first. Actually, the chicken and egg are the result of something bigger— a brand idea that captures the firmly held belief of the Vital Farms people. Namely, humane farming and ethical food are better for the environment and its inhabitants. So, they’ve taken steps to enhance the way they farm and raise chickens to improve our stock (forgive the pun) on farming in general, animal care and the environment to hatch a better egg.
How’s it a better egg? Vital Farms claims you’ll experience a better tasting egg. Maybe you will; maybe you won’t. However, if you are concerned about animal welfare, the environment and that what you put into your body is ethically sourced, then you’ll experience a feeling that you are doing the right thing when consuming Vital Farms Pasture-Raised eggs. If you believe what Vital Farms believes then emotionally, you will feel better about purchasing (and eating) their eggs.
How you can Improve your physical product to improve the customer experience
Anything and everything can be improved and that includes the physical product. Here are some approaches to improving physical products:
- Get off the stick and give more thought to the physical product – If you don’t, someone like Jenni is going to come along and leapfrog you.
- Brainstorm – Use your imagination. What might you do to improve an egg? As Albert Einstein opined, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
- Fortify it with different, more or a higher level of vitamins and minerals
- Make them bigger
- Pasteurize or don’t pasteurize
- Breed healthier chickens
- Don’t feed chickens with antibiotics or GMO ingredients
- Give your hens a Thai massage daily (just checking to see if you are awake)
- Think again!
- Demand more – Don’t be satisfied with the status quo. Stretch. Seek that which would help make your product lead to a better or meaningfully different experience. Remember, as, in the case of Vital Farm eggs, the experience could be psychological or emotional. Also, we stated that Jenni’s Splendid Ice Cream is better than the so-called “super-premium” ice creams “now.” Expect that tomorrow someone will come along that out-performs Jenni’s (unless they continue to improve). Seek and demand more.
- Please yourself – Steve Jobs developed and commercialized products that would delight him. What changes might you make in your physical product that would delight you? If you’re already feeling delighted, reread the above point.
- Don’t settle for limitations – When R&D, manufacturing or others tell you something can’t be done (e.g., we can’t farm without fertilizer), double down! If you don’t continue to pursue the development of a better product due to perceived limitations, then a competitor will beat you to the punch and deliver it to the marketplace before you.
Best wishes in hatching a better egg,
Richard Czerniawski and Mike Maloney