Product features vs benefits – Buying/selling a product full of features?

by Ashvini on September 8, 2010 · 1 comment

in Entrepreneurship

Customer most of the time has common misconception that more feature means better product. Lot of times thinking goes like this “Well for the same price or lesser this company is offering a product with more features” The discussion ends up with comparing various products on an excel sheet layout. The feeling among customer is that if it offers more, it must be definitely better.
In the process of such an evaluation, what is lost is the value of  intangible features such as performance, usability, robustness of architecture( which unfortunately can be checked only when the product is being used. However it can act as a guiding principal when evaluating other software).
If you take a look at any software you have been using, you will find that you are not using more than 10% of the overall features provided. For e.g. count the features( or guess them ) of your spreadsheet software that you actually use and divide it by the number of features available. You will find the ratio not more than 20%. In fact this strengthens the 80/20 rule which means that you will use 20% of features 80% of time. If you decide to find the features that you will never use compared to overall features that you have not used it will be a good percentage again. That means

One does not need best off the shelf product. One needs a product that suits his or her needs

What does this mean to businesses?

Businesses should not evaluate a product only from the features perspective. Sure you are getting more but have you counted the cost? It might take vendors a few thousand dollars more to develop features that are rarely used but are  now being recovered from you? Decide if you want these features at all. A major area of evaluation can be how desperately your business want a particular feature or features. You can prioritize them and then evaluate the products for that feature. It will help cut costs, invest money in other products and save a lot of time learning not so used features.

What does it mean to vendors?

It is a high time that products are developed that meet specific needs rather than claiming to be all in one. The cost of development and maintenance is much higher when you have more features. You will need to hire more people, develop skills in areas that are not profitable and keep the features that nobody uses running. A customer might get angry if you one day decide to remove these features. Vendors should question the customer’s tendency of evaluating products by comparing features. Vendors should inform customers that their product solves specific pain area and does not address every pain that they have and hence needs to be evaluated that way.

What does it mean to an entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur who is into product development business needs to find the pain point that customers have. Lot of customers don’t like cluttered products ( with too many features). An entrepreneur should offer a simple product with simple interface. There are customers who love a simple product. Also, when you are in competition with big players, it makes sense to keep things simple and focused.
To summarize

  1. More feature does not mean better product ( to all)
  2. Prioritize what you want from a product ( Customers)
  3. Offer simpler products(Vendors/Entrepreneurs)
  4. More feature does not mean better product( Customers)
  5. Find out a specific pain area and focus on that ( All)
  6. Avoid being a jack of all trait. Focus. (Entrepreneurs)

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