Creating new value always involves proposing new or unexpected meanings. What matters most to people is not the function or performance of a given product, but their emotional, psychological and cultural connection to what the product means to them.
New value is in the “meaning” not in the physical thing. People don’t just buy product, they buy into a higher meaning. This unexpected idea, unsolicited by user needs, once discovered, turns out to be the very thing people were waiting for, just not asking for. Nobody was asking for an iPod, Facebook, baked potato chips, the Swiffer, or any other product innovation that has redefined or reinvented a category.
Forget user-centered innovation
With so many such examples in every industry to benchmark from, I am surprised most marketers don’t seem to “get it”. Most are heavily invested in traditional market innovation – finding a consumer need and filling it.
Many marketers are focused on how their new product / service innovation has more buttons and is easier to use, has more features and is cheaper than the leading brand. A radical innovation of meaning rarely, if ever, comes from incremental improvements or user-centered approaches.
Most companies continue to improve incremental performance within existing market concepts they know well– leaving only a few visionary companies to gain competitive advantage (market leadership) by proposing new and different meanings.
The message of hope.
Value creator brands are guided by a higher purpose beyond money-making… they earn and deserve the advocacy of high value customers because they represent an “increase to life” itself. In our post-marketing-social-media world, consumers create communities based on shared values. Brands can’t add values to the world unless they have them.