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 The Product Benefit/Detriment Scale

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former mentor




PostSubject: The Product Benefit/Detriment Scale   Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:29 am

Each consumer product lives on what I call the Benefit/Detriment scale. Think of it like a see-saw of sorts where you pile things on both sides. First on the detriment side is cost. The consumer has to buy the product and that is detriment. We start to balance this out with benefit of the solution the product offers. The name of the product design game is to keep the benefits of the product higher than the detriments.

Let’s use a simple retail product as an example – for many years there has been a product on the market called a “Can Cap” (about 9 versions actually)



As you can see they are functional, however they use a manufacturing process called injection molding. This process gives you a very accurate part, but requires very expensive tooling and consequently these caps range in price from about 3-5 dollars a pack. This price point by design makes them reusable since a consumer does not normally throw away $4.00 products.

When you first look at the benefit/detriment scale of the Can Cap, you can see it does exactly what the manufacturer said it would do. But when you take a closer look at the entire retail equation, you find that the benefit/detriment scale is actually shifted to one side. Let’s look at this example.

It’s Saturday morning and you are taking little Johnny to a soccer game. You grab a coke from the fridge and a can cap from the kitchen drawer. Pop it on, and immediately it starts giving you benefit back for that detriment you suffered in the purchase. Fast forward, and its ½ way through the game, you’re done with your coke and you remove the reusable can cap and throw away the empty can. At that very moment the product starts causing you detriment and the see-saw starts to tip back. The life-cycle of the product demands you follow through to the end - you have to get this sticky piece of plastic into your pocket for the rest of the game, back to the mini-van, drive it home, take it out of your packed and wash it off before putting it into the dishwasher and the next day take it from the dishwasher and back to its starting point. By this time the scale has significantly shifted with far more detriment than the benefit the product offered.

In contrast - The disposable Twist Cap product version we developed fixes the retail equation by making sure the cap and the can die at the same time. As a disposable piece costing about 25 cents, the Twist Cap has no moving parts (simply rotate to close) and takes advantage of a much cheaper manufacturing process called vacuum forming. To add additional value, we make it from thick enough material so if the consumer chooses to, they can wash it and use it several times.



By making the Twist Cap product and the soda end their retail equation at the same time, we ensure the product does not cause additional detriment to the consumer. If the consumer chooses to wash it and reuse it, Then it is assuming the same life-cycle as the Can Cap, however not by design. Therefore the consumer doesn’t actually assign that detriment to the product itself, but actually assigns benefit to the product for having the option to re-use it.

Next time we'll talk about what happens to the scale when we assign belief and social trends.
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