Ayomide Oke is a software developer I met in 2013 on my way to Kano state. While we were waiting for the flight to take off, I watched him play around with an application on his device; it was fascinating especially when I discovered it was a financial package. We got talking, and he explained that he was on his way to Abuja to make some presentations to some financial institutions about this package. The package was modelled after M-Pesa, Kenya’s successful e-payment system. He displayed all the features and functions of the application, and how Nigeria’s economy will be better off with the package. I was confident any financial institution will jump at it since Nigeria was talking about a cashless society.
Unfortunately, Ayomide’s story was different. He explained how difficult it has been for him to sell the product to clients, even though it was a great product. I was thinking aloud why would any client not want such software that will empower the unbanked in rural areas in Nigeria and make the organisation profitable in the long run? So with my background in Marketing, I started probing further into why such a good product got rejected by clients. One of the questions I asked him was, “After your presentations, what responses do you normally get?” I was expecting to hear all the negatives that can make a product fail, but he said, “I usually get good commendations about the software, but they still can’t commit to buying the package.” If a package is good, and meets the need of the client, why is it being resisted?
Many entrepreneurs like Ayomide have experienced customers’ resistance towards their innovative ideas or products. It’s frustrating because you know your product is good, even the customers can attest to it, yet the product struggles to find a place in the market. This time, the quality of the product or service is not in question, it can compete with existing offerings in the market, but patronage is still not as expected. This time, the problem has gone beyond bad product or poor marketing, other factors have come to play. Even the big corporations experience this too, for instance, as good as the benefits of the electric car are or the proposed self driving car, I have seen people developing cold feet towards these innovations. “They are good, and I like them but they are not my type of cars” are some of the comments I’ve heard. If all that consumers crave for is quality product that will bring high satisfaction, why are they reluctant to adopt same innovations that made it possible?
Understanding why consumers resist innovative products can help entrepreneurs in handling objection as well as making an effective presentation. Unfortunately, most businesses focus mainly on how to get consumers to adopt their products without paying much attention to some reasons why they may resist such products. This is has been the cause of failure for many leading innovative products.
Some of these reasons and how they can be dealt with will be discussed next.