What Makes A Product “Work”?

In my line of business I come across a lot of products that, for one reason or another, just don’t “work” in the mainstream consumer marketplace. Three_betamax_vcrsI don’t mean they don’t function. I mean they don’t work. They don’t click with the marketplace. It is a very interesting combination of factors that makes a product succeed – or not. Maybe the product itself is flawed. That is always possible. Maybe the design of it is just so poor that it literally doesn’t do what it is supposed to. But in today’s computer-designed world, that happens less and less. Maybe the packaging is bad – unattractive or unappealing in some way. Maybe the price is too high – or even too low. (Sometimes a low price can signal to consumers – rightly or wrongly – that a product is low quality.) Or maybe the product simply didn’t get wide enough distribution to ever catch on. There are probably a dozen or more other reasons why a product didn’t really “work”. Let me give you one recent example. In our closeout business, I came across a product manufactured by the company TDK. Maybe you’ve heard of TDK. They are a respected company in the audio space. They were well known during the age of cassette tapes and continue in business making audio and other products. The product was a small mobile music player designed for MP3 players. Back in the day they used to call these kinds of players “boom boxes”. I actually took one of these players home and plugged it in and used it at a party. And I want to tell you…this thing sounded fantastic. It was small enough to carry around but large enough to keep the whole party hopping. I don’t know why this product made it to my hands via the closeout business. I would think that people who love music and want a portable player would love it. But for some reason, this TDK player wasn’t “working” in the marketplace. Maybe TDK as a brand isn’t cool enough. Would it have been different if this product said, “Beats by Dr. Dre” on it? Maybe. Was there poor marketing behind this product? Have you ever heard of it? Is there enough demand for this kind of music player? Well, you get my point. Here is one product that is probably not going to light up retail shelves. What do you think is the main reason a product doesn’t “work”? Send me your thoughts to ryan@dva.com.

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