How you avoid a commodity
We live in capitalism, where most products become a commodity. It’s a fate in this era. One company launches a new product, and then another starts the same one to sell at a reasonable price. Then, it goes to the game of who can sell the cheapest. You don’t want to see your products that cannot sell and then a discount. So, it’s clear that you have to make a differentiation.
The value changes
To go into differentiation, we make sure how the value changes through the ages. Here are three periods that you should know.
The function age. Companies focused on functionalities into products to distinguish while improving techniques – Home appliances such as TV, refrigerator, or washing machine with high performance and high price. It was, we’d say, in the 1980s.
Then, it moves into the design age in the 1990s. You looked for style, coolness and fashionable in products – Cameras, DVD players, and mobile phones were an example of this.
Now, it shifts to the storytelling age. It’s the 2000s. The story tells you a lot. You buy it with meaning – you’ll get to know the production of the electric fans and how the creators go through the most challenging part to put their viewpoint into shape. You feel their passion and pain and gain it more appealing from the story.
When you look at products that sell well in this time, they have these values embedded. So, if you are a brand, you should include them in the market. If you don’t do that, it would be hard to sell.
Two Japanese brands
Let’s look at two examples. One is Balmuda. It’s a Japanese home appliance brand founded in 2003. They have started electric fans that sold well, and then the toaster was a big hit that sold more than 1 million pieces. As you sensed, their products share three values – bake like freshly baked bread, simple design and a founder’s travel memory. The founder was a musician. So you could get their narrative message along with each product.
The other is the Cohina. It’s a Japanese women’s apparel founded in 2018. They produce clothing items for women of shorter stature, 140cm to 150 cm. Their monthly sales are more than $850,000. They have shared their size problems with fans through Instagram live since its launch. It was an instant hit as they shared those three values.
As you read, three values should embed in products. It’s essential. We give them simple words. A function says a few words (e.g., easy to use, small, light etc.). You could see a design at first glance (e.g., beautiful, minimal, etc.). A story is you could tell.
Now, there are a few questions. How do you use those three values to market products? Is there an order that you should follow? First, we think you should set them in order. A design is the first thing you care about because people see the difference. Imagine that you go to a store, and you’ll notice it first thing. Then, a function is the second one as you use and understand how good it is. And lastly, it makes the story that connects you and gets you closer to products as humans look for stories to act. In the last to say, these orders depend on where your target lives. If you want to market your products in Japan, this order will work. But in the case of a developing country, function and design should go first. So, make sure you design three values and set consistency to make people aware of your products.
The last question to ask. What would you achieve after you used those values?