How can you separate yourself from the pack and create a “Great Product!” vs. the “Me Too” products which usually only provide a few new unique features? You “Wow!” them with an amazing experience. In today’s world, customers either bond with your product quickly or they don’t. The “bondable” products have several similar characteristics and almost always center around the emotions the product evokes based on the customers experience.
Of course, the easy answers on how to create such products are “Ease of Use” or a “Simple Interface” or “3 Clicks to a Solution”. Yes, those are certainly key requirements and are necessary but not sufficient to ensure a true hit.
You are striving for the customer that can’t wait to use your product again. You want an evoked emotion that makes your customer tell stories about your product. Hard? You bet? Remember Caddyshack and Chevy Chase’s classic phrase “Be the Ball Danny”? Well, “Be the Customer”. Put the customer in the room at every single interaction point and then build the product as if you were reading the customers mind.
There aren’t enough marketing dollars in the world that can equal this kind of “Experience Branding”. These products actually evoke true emotions from their customers and the resulting word-of-mouth marketing takes on a life of its own.
One of the best examples of this phenomenon is the simple iPod. There were plenty of MP3 music players prior to Apple’s entry. True to form, Apple won not with superior technology but with superior ease of use and a superior customer experience. The iPod in it’s first form was all about the scroll and click wheel…. Load it, Scroll It, Click It. That was it…oh yeah ….and they put a pretty package around it.
Well, early this morning, I was flipping channels prior to heading off to work and I was surprised to see the Early Show (Today?) reviewing online grocery shopping sites. This is a market I know well. I was involved with 3 early stage e-commerce companies from 1996-2000. It’s been seven years since Webvan, therefore I was very intrigued to see what the survivors and the new entrant (Amazon) was offering To my surprise, not much has changed. However, one company in the review did stand out and thus inspired this post.
The four online grocery companies reviewed were a local large chain NY store, Peapod (I couldn’t believe they were still around), Amazon (just announced they were entering the market?) and a company called Fresh Direct The conclusion was predictable. Amazon’s selection was very bad (not a good sign) as they are focused on large bulk packaged goods (a.k.a CostCo). Peapod and the big NY chain store had the classic problems of “spotty” experience (sometimes you got what you ordered..other times the “substitute items” were less than satisfactory.
Only Fresh Direct “Got It”. How? They totally nailed the “Customer Experience”. Yes, they were higher priced but their selection, quality, and consitency of their produce was second to none. Moreover, they have features that “shop the way their customers do”.
Fresh Direct is clearly not a “me too” grocery shopping site”. Instead, they offer up dinner suggestions from top chefs (complete with recipes) on the home page. Fresh Direct understands their target customer….. a very busy, stay-at-home parent. Anything that will save this customer time and/or relieve stress is worth more than any extra dollars. Selection, convenience and experience always trumps price.
Fresh Direct even goes a step further. They provide a detailed shopping list of all the ingredients contained in that “chefs recipe” and with 1-Click automatically adds the items to the shopping cart. How’s that for convenience and an awesome experience? How ’bout them apples? (sorry…I’m a movie guy too and Good Will Hunting was a favorite).
Fresh Direct “gets it” and this kind of customer focus is what separates the winners in any industry from the simple “me too’s”. Experience branding at it’s best. If you live in NY, go for it at:
If not, keep your eye on this company, it has the makings of one of those niche players that “takes off” while the bigger players try to “catch up” and never really “get it”. We just may see Fresh Direct or hopefully something like it in the Bay Area soon.