May 19, 2011

Two Kinds of Products, Two Ways of Buying

Filed under: business,internet,marketing — Erik Dobberkau @ 00:05

The other day it occured to me in (almost) any market segment there are two kinds of products with entirely different ways of buying:

  • Mass-produced products: This is everything made “in a factory” in a standardized process which leads to (almost perfectly) identical copies distributed to all retailers.
  • Unique products: These are products that are made “by hand” specifically for you and only you, unique.

The difference between the two is like buying a shoe in a shoe store or from a shoe maker. The first is a finished, tangible, testable, take-it-or-leave-it product. The second is not really a product because it doesn’t exist yet, it’s a service.

The problem is we as consumers buy 99.9% off-the-shelf stuff, and thanks to the Internet this side of the market has become very transparent. Whatever we want, we type it into the search field and within seconds we know about price and availability. And because we do it all the time we have come to believe that this holds true for any product. Which is not the case, of course. How do you compare products that have no been made yet? Obviously you can’t, and the only thing you can do is make guesses by talking to the manufacturers to see how you like them, or talk to people who have bought something there.

So when people are hesitant when it comes to buying products that are not comparable, one of the better things to do when you’re the one making these products is facilitating the exchange of user experience, creating a community of fans and curious people, a go-to place. Do not leave them lost. Help them make a decision they are happy with, whether it’s in your favour or not.

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