Made to Stick and the Curse of Innovation

A large portion of new and innovative products fails in the marketplace (many studies show that the success rate is below 10%). This is a very inefficient for society as a whole. Each improvement in new product success has important benefits.

In tough times such as ours, it is even more important, than in normal times, to optimize the innovation managementm and to increase innovation success.

Support the Development

Product Management has the task to support the development of a product, and to position it, to achieve sales readyness and to support the sales channel (find the complete task description in my article → The Strategic Role of Product Management). Here some more ideas about the why and the how.

How to Have Innovative Products Succeed in the Marketplace

April Dunford from explains in her article → Making it Real that it is important to make your metrics more real in customer’s minds. With this she means the following:

„It’s one thing to be able to say that your product is “high performance”, but quite another to say it’s “Twice as fast” as your leading competitor. Often however, these results can still be a bit intangible for prospects, particularly those who don’t have much experience with your particular type of product“ – April Dunford

She cites (and references) a study from McAfee, which positions spam prevention as a means to preserve our environment.

Adaptation Rates

Gourville wrote a study (→ The Curse of Innovation: A Theory Why Innovative New Products Fail in the Marketplace), explaining us his theory why he thinks, the adaptation rates  for innovation are so low.

He argues, that new products require behavior change from customers. On the other hand it delivers innovation and improvement to a certain degree. Typically, customers overvalue the behavior change, and developer overvalue the innovativeness of the innovation, so that there is a gap.

„It leads those who have accepted or embraced the innovation, such as developers, insiders, and investors, to see more value in their product than an objective assessment would suggest. It also leads those who have yet to encounter the innovation, such as the typical consumer, to see less value than an objective assessment would suggest“ Gourville page 22

He suggests the following strategies to cope with this gap:

  1. Accept the difference, and manage resistance to change
  2. Actively minimize the resistence to change

Manage Resistence to Change

Gourville argues that behavior change might be unavoidable, and suggests the following measures:

  • Manage the long haul (establish a beachhead, and slowly grow traction. In this strategy is particularly important that the firm estimates the adoption correctly)
  • Brute force method (make the benefits of an innovation so great as to overcome potential losses)
  • Eliminate the incumbent alternative (taking the current technology from the market and replace it with the new technology)

Minimize Resistence to change

Many firms have no real possiblities to manage resistence to change. For them it is an option to minimize the resistence to change. He suggests the following measures:

  • Manage the behavioral change and make the innovation easier to consume
  • Search for new customers which do not use any alternative (tap into new customer segments)
  • Search customers who value the benefits to gain very high, and who value the benefits of the current technology very low (here he references Clayton Christensen and his disruptive technologies -> see  The Innovators Dilemma – German)

Where Proper Positioning and Communication helps

A proper positioning as proposed by April helps to manage several areas in the Curse of Innovation. It helps to address the gap between anticipated behavior change by customers, on the one hand side. Further it helps to properly communicate the actual degree of innovation, as seen by the innovator. I think, Making it realmainly contributes to the following areas, and there helps improve innovation success:

  • Brute force
  • Manage behavioral change
  • Position as beneficial technology

Weiterführende Informationen

Das Original dieses Artikels ist auf Der Produktmanager erschienen (©Andreas Rudolph). Regelmäßige Artikel gibt es über die (→Mailingliste), oder indem Sie →mir auf Twitter folgen. In der Online Version finden Sie hier die versprochenen weiterführenden Links:

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