Thursday, April 14, 2011

Features: less is more

Imagine this:  You are in the market for a new blender.  All you're going to do with it is to make smoothies and milkshakes.  If it grinds ice and the parts are dishwasher safe, that will do.

You walk into your favorite small appliance store and see a row of blenders.  None of the prices are shown.  Almost all of the blender boxes say that they will make smoothies and milkshakes.  Two of them say they're dishwasher safe.  One of those two blenders can also shred metal, is easy to take apart, has measuring markers on the side, and comes with a set of six exchangeable lids, identical except that they're white, black, green, brown, red, and pink.

But again, it's hard to tell the price.  The cash register is downstairs at the far end of the store, and there are no price checking stations to be found anywhere.

Which would you choose?  Most people would choose the simpler blender.  Why?  Fit for the customer's needs, and "I don't need all of those extra things," and "It will cost me more."

In product management, whether it's software, blenders, or even a resume the concept is the same -- less is more.  Your product needs to fit the customer's needs, but not beyond that.  More is not necessarily better.  In fact, the company could be earning a much smaller margin on each blender because of the cost of those additional features and the requirement to keep the price under a certain level.

By the way, I checked the web site - the simple-looking blender actually has many of the features of the fancy one yet still earned the sale.  ...but that's more of an outbound marketing issue, isn't it?

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