Don’t Change. Profit.

Why are people so interested in the new(s)? Because they hate change. Here’s how to capitalize on that fear:

I recently wrote about how people don’t like to change and it got me thinking, “What if I created products or services based on the premise that people hate change?” Tablet computers are revolutionary partly because they don’t have a keyboard, but one of the most popular accessories for a tablet computer is a keyboard. This is because people are used to computers having physical keyboards and they hate learning something new. Incandescent light bulbs are going to soon become illegal and people will be forced to buy fluorescent or LED light bulbs instead. People hate this and will now pay a premium for the regular old incandescent light bulbs. Nintendo releases the Wii 2, the most advanced gaming system yet, but people are still clamoring for games and accessories for the NES. It’s not retro – it’s change rejection.

Call it whatever you like, there is money to be had in working against the onslaught of new products. Solo or one-cup coffee makers like the Keurig and their K-Cup system is now all the rage, which means there could be a market for the standard, large coffee pots you grew up with. Ebook readers and ebooks are now sold more on Amazon than traditional paper books. This could mean there is an opportunity for well-designed paper books to make a comeback. Ten years ago, in the height of the CD era, vinyl was cool. Now cassette tapes are coming back into style. Whatever is normal can become cool when change comes around. Digital wallets that use your phone to store credit and debit card information will soon replace your regular wallet, which means regular wallets will start to become cooler than ever.

How to develop new products? Don’t.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Wait for your competitor to innovate, then reverberate back to a product people are used to. In banking, the new products all have to do with remote deposit, ATM deposit, or deposit by phone. They are driving their customers away from their banking center branches because branches cost money and the thought is that no one wants to have to go there to do business. But the fact is that people have been going there to do business for decades and providing the best branch experience for your customers may give your bank an edge and help to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. Like Mark Twain said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

Pause and Reflect

What are the major disruptions going on now in your field? Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC, recently said in Forbes that, “Five things weigh on my mind when I think about where technology is headed. One is the cloud. Two is mobile, or what I call post-PC computing. Three is the explosion of data-a 44x increase in data created annually this decade. Four is analytics, to get value from that stored data. Five is security: trust in everything we do will be at the forefront.” Now do what George Costanza believes and do the opposite: make and sell things that store files locally instead of the cloud like external hard drives and flash drives. Second, develop products that allow people to use their PCs and smartphones less – free them up to leave their computing devices at home. Third, help them to do what they used to do with data – print it out, frame it, mail it, and touch it. Four, build relationships, not databases. Five, do unto others as you would want done unto yourself.

These are just a few examples about how to look at product development through a different set of eyes. Hopefully it was helpful.

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