• In the dramatic version of “mainstreaming”, it’s not that new things enter
the stream; instead, it’s that a different stream becomes the main one.
• In a strategy of Convenience, the customer does not come to the product;
the product comes to the customer.
• Rapid adoption is an indicator that people have been waiting for something
even if they had not been looking forward to it. The switch might be
triggered just by getting them to look somewhere else. But when they look,
they have to see themselves there, too.
Developing the New
Inside of a company, a new product (or solution, which we’ll just call “product”,
too) will typically develop over time from a concept to a demo to an offering.
Usually, the ideal progression shows the product being “pulled” through from
beginning to end, due to a formalized enthusiasm (such as a managed project) that
already put the development at a competitive priority versus other ideas.
In an open market, by comparison, we usually think that a product must “push” its
own way through, with some combination of influence and maneuvering for
position. In effect, it progressively earns its priority amongst eventual users, versus
existing offerings that already have acceptance.
The pattern of going from concept to demo to offering is in place in the open market as
well, characterizing the new product’s advance versus the prior one.
The contrast between what is already established and good, versus what is novel and
better, shows up in different trajectories of ongoing acceptance.
As illustrated following, the established product may be holding steady or even gradually
sloping upward, but at some point it starts to fall off. Meanwhile, the new product
trajectory generally rises from a much lower level to an eventual point where it is equally
competitive with the prior offering, or even superior to it, in market acceptance.
Product performance is both an influencer and a result of acceptance. But at root, the
higher or lower acceptance represents a point-of-view. A shift in point-of-view mainly
alters the priority of the product, regardless of the product performance.
In the end, Preference, as opposed to acceptance, is based on “what” the product
performs, not “how” it performs. For new products, preference is more powerful than
When and How is “good enough” better?
As shown in the following, the point where the trajectories intersect may not
actually represent competing flavors of the same thing. The subject hereafter is
specifically about what makes the new product “better” – as in, what “better”
actually means and why it overtakes the prior offering in preference.
Accepted value proposition
New value proposition
Where did we get that curve for the new product trajectory?
Most of us are familiar with the famous “hype curve”, in which something is worked on, followed by
a period of rapidly escalating excitement, followed by a significant downward slope into a more
realistic understanding of what is being worked with.
This discussion doesn’t pretend to have any hard data that generated the curve. Instead, it is using
the generic hype-curve shape symbolically, to represent a “vetting” that takes place during each
stage of the new product’s trajectory. We have seen these vettings occur many, many times.
The value of the new product evolves in the three stages – from concept to demo to offering. A key question
about each stage is, “why was there a net rise in the acceptance of the product?” The answer is different in
each stage because each stage accomplishes something different. But the affect is cumulative. What all stages
share in common is a “model” for defining what is “better” about the product, leading to overall Acceptance.
The model is that Acceptance is made up of Belief, Need and Reliance. However, each stage has a target
success factor being addressed, that is served by a specific realization of the model’s terms of acceptance.
In the open market, each stage is “vetting” something different. The market does not impose pressure on the
trial and error of the vetting the way that a company’s internal project management would. Rather, over time
the vettings progressively confirm characteristics that create the value proposition to be accepted. The new
product’s value proposition does NOT have to overlap the one for the established product. It needs priority.
WHO can make it work
WHAT it is used for
( esp., applicable
WHERE it can be used
A common path to Preference reflects the growing evidence that the new product represents an idea that has
been “realized” and is not just a claim or experiment. The path does not cause preference but it allows it. Each
stage strengthens the “believability”. Each stage passes the “need” test of a critical success factor. And each
stage adds certainty to the accessibility of the product’s desirable difference. Combined with that accessibility,
priority moves the new product into a position where it may achieve Preference amongst users.
High benefit/risk ratio
Changing of the Guard
Across each of the three stages of the new product’s advance, the status of the prior established
product also changes relative to the new.
• While the new product is in its concept phase, the established product is still available and
• During the new product’s demo phase, the prior product’s value proposition still holds, but key
limitations accepted with the prior product stop being decreased. This really means that the
problem or ambition being solved by the prior product is not being redefined.
• When the new product is in its offering phase, the value proposition of the prior product is
actually supplanted by a different value proposition that is preferable.
Preference reflects an opportunity that is deemed more important and has higher benefit while
simultaneously its opportunity cost is acceptable.
High benefit/risk ratio
It’s not important to belabor the idea much more; the pattern just described is mainly retrospective,
although it might also fit some things currently in progress or “in the queue”.
• The major implication of the pattern is that user preference is more powerful than product
performance, making the detailing of preference into a powerful design consideration.
Acceptance, accessibility and priority are the key ingredients of preference.
• Fitting products to user priorities is already a typical aspect of design, but there is a difference
between what the user wants from a customary (prior) value proposition, and what value
proposition the user actually wants.
• Users whose priorities change may do so primarily due to the force of some example elsewhere.
• Powerful examples, capable of changing preferences, are likely to be both convincing and
• The demonstrated opportunities of a new product can obsolete the preference for the old,
clearing the way for faster adoption of the new.
Casual examples of contrasting value props
• Affordable glamour was a critical un-served part of music entertainment experience for huge
numbers of people of modest incomes and talent… until Disco takes over.
• Digital CDs and later iTunes made personal music collections far more portable, but huge
numbers of users were more interested in variety than in ownership. YouTube and Pandora take
• A huge percentage of laptop computing users actually wanted media clients. Tablets take over.
• Most compact cameras now have applications and wireless networking built in for ad hoc
communication, yet they come from “smartphone” makers.
• Urban “public” transportation could evolve largely as fleets of electric rental cars, in order to
satisfy personal convenience without the burden of private ownership.
• Online education courses might be compiled from multiple providers to offer a “school” where
course availability is far higher than on-campus, although the campus environment might still
enhance study of any given course.
• And so on…