Thursday, 15 October 2015

3 Reasons Customers Resist Innovative Products (2)

Innovation in business is very important, but most important is developing a product/service consumers are willing to buy. Over the years, many products with innovative features have failed, not because they are not good, in fact, most times, they bring more to the market than existing products. Unfortunately, consumers end up avoiding them leading to over 70-90% of innovation failures and eventual withdrawal of such product from the market. Examples like Microsoft Windows Vista, Apple’s Newton PDA, the Concorde supersonic airplane etc reminds us that not everything innovative finds a market. Some of them actually came into the market when consumers were not ready for such innovation.
Entrepreneurs with new products or services want customers to adopt it and get maximum satisfaction from using them. However, entrepreneurs often face the challenge of convincing customers to move from an existing product where they derive satisfaction, to a new one which its utility is not certain.
Here are some reasons customers may resist your new offerings.

1.      Your products bring too much change
Change is good, but customers don’t always appreciate it when a product is bringing too much change to their lifestyle. For instance, Coca Cola’s attempt to change the original taste of coke was met with resistance. When consumers feel very comfortable with an existing product, they can go to any length to resist any attempt to change it especially when such a change will affect other areas of their lives. This resistance comes as a result of consumers being satisfied with their current situation, and see no reason to change. Habits that have been developed while using a particular product are difficult to do away with. Any product that requires a change in behaviour will likely experience resistance.

2.      Innovations with the wrong technology
Many businesses apply the wrong technology in their market. In Nigeria, when it comes to telecoms, GSM is the way to go. Over 90% of subscribers use it, and it is the preferred network in the world. For companies that came into Nigeria with CDMA technology - Starcomms, Multi-links etc, it wasn’t a favourable market for them. Technology has seasons and regions where they are most appreciated. E-retailers in Nigeria observed that insisting on shoppers buying and paying online alone may not give them the desired result; they decided to introduce ‘Pay-on-delivery.’ This act is building confidence in people to use the technology. The right technology must be one that fits into a people’s lifestyle, values and norms. Every technology introduced into a business must be compatible with the desires of the consumers.

3.      Innovations that are too complex
Keep it simple. Innovation is all about simplifying life. Innovative products are those that are useful to consumers, and are easy to use. Years back, the long process of registering on a website puts off many people, but today, with your social media accounts, it looks seamless. Consumers are always reluctant to go for innovative products that are complex to use, complicated and confusing. If you can’t keep it simple, it’s not good enough.
Consumers’ resistance of a product doesn’t mean a failure, but it points out the need for entrepreneurs to pay more attention to the needs of the market. Bringing a technology that consumers are not familiar with, and the risk level cannot easily be ascertained will create an air of doubt in the consumers. If the resistance is allowed to prolong, it leads to rejection and eventual product failure.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

3 Reasons Customers Resist Innovative Products (1)

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.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


In my last article, we discussed how business ideas can be converted into new products. Today, we will look at how small businesses can effectively market their new innovative products. This became necessary following an encounter I had with a vendor who came to present an electronic ‘Invitation Card’ that is tied to invitees’ social media platform. After the presentation to the panel, I asked a simple question, “What am I going to do with the card after the event?”
The product was innovative and great, but if we are paying so much for it, we should receive something greater than what the vendor was offering. Unfortunately, the panel didn’t get a convincing response in terms of values he wanted them to pay for. Offering a new product at the right value and price can be very challenging especially when technology is involved, but you can get consumers to consider your product, if you:
1.      Tie your innovation to an ‘important value’
Each feature in a product is valued from very important to not so important. If consumers must pay certain amount for a product, that amount must commensurate with the value they are getting. Consumers will not pay you because you introduced technology into your product. The technology is good, but the most important benefit consumers will get from your product should be your main concern. Don’t push benefits you cannot easily point out its worth to consumers.
2.      Show why your innovation is better
This vendor showed us how his product is different, but failed to point out why it is better than what we were already used to. Differentiating your idea is great, but if consumers cannot figure out what makes it better than existing ideas, you will have problem convincing them to buy. Don’t show us how your innovation is different; show us why it is better.
3.      Make the price ridiculously irresistible
Every new innovation is meant to give more value at a lower price all things being equal. There is a reason every mother would prefer to use diapers than use cloth napkins for their babies even though diapers are more expensive. Innovative ideas must be priced such that the total benefits derived surpass the amount the consumer wants to pay. Don’t give consumers a price tag that will force them to have a rethink about your product.
4.      Present your product features logically
Selling is like learning. When selling, you are trying to teach your customers about your product. You take it step by step, ensuring that they understand every step before you make the next move. Good information help consumers make purchase decisions about a product. The more information you give them about your product, the earlier they reach a decision. Don’t be in a hurry to present your product features, consumers need time to process information provided.

Embedding technology into products/ideas is the commonest means to innovation, however there is no guarantee consumers will buy into it. The first lesson I learnt in Marketing is that a ‘Product is a bundle of benefits’ and consumers are paying for these benefits, not the product. As an entrepreneur, always think in terms of benefits consumers will derive from your products when using it, not the technology that you have embedded into it. Don’t sell technology, sell benefits.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

3 Challenges of converting your Ideas to New Product Development

Businesses are always in constant search for new ideas that will sustain them in the market, and deciding on a particular idea is usually very challenging for entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur, various things can slow down the rate at which you convert your ideas to eventual new product.
For every successful new product development, dozens of promising ideas have been considered by an organisation. The essence of the consideration is to determine which of the ideas is good enough to be introduced into the market at the right time. Timing is key in business decisions, and every idea must be considered along this line. Businesses prefer a business idea that can move into the market faster before that of the competitors.
However, there are delays entrepreneurs will likely encounter before they make that decision to create a new product.

Too many disjointed ideas:
It is good to have a pool of ideas on the table before making a decision, but the more ideas you have for consideration, the slower you will be at picking one. When you have a large number of promising ideas that you are considering at a time, it becomes more difficult to pay attention to any particular one. Each business idea is a process with its own chain of activities, so it is important to consider early which of the ideas is more promising/important, at what cost, and what experience do I have to execute it? The fewer the promising ideas you have, the better your chances of converting one into a finished product.

Capacity of resources:
Every business idea requires resources to make it achievable. Resources help bring ideas to fruition however; when these resources are shared among various promising ideas, it weakens the speed at which you come up with new products. You must understand the capacity of your resources to sustain an idea or group of ideas per time. Taking all ideas with your limited resources will only lead to a crash even before you develop any product

Lack of Experience:
When exploring ideas, it’s important we focus on ideas around our areas of competence. It’s easier to develop ideas around website/App design if you have knowledge in programming than if you don’t have at all. We have alot of aspiring entrepreneurs who go into an industry where they don’t have the needed experience and capacity to breed ideas that can lead to new products hence; they remain stuck in existing products. If you want to convert ideas into new products, begin by considering ideas in your field of experience.

When selecting business ideas, focus on the ones with technical and commercial values, and that has the capacity to keep you motivated into a new product development. New product development is all about speed – getting into the market faster. No business wants to introduce an obsolete product into the market; they make effort on minimizing delays from ideas to new products.