This is the second article that explores customer-centricity in today’s context.
A product is a tangible item and a service an intangible item. They are both closely aligned, with many products carrying an element of service, which are put on the market for consumption. For example, when a customer buys a laptop, it comes with service responsibilities like warranty on certain parts over a limited time period.
In a free market economy, organisations innovate products and services based on consumers’ needs at any time. They are increasingly pressured to innovate and improve because of competition. In this way, customers eventually decide which products and services succeed or fail – by perceiving if an item has value add or is moneys worth. For this reason organisations need to develop ‘decent’ products to appeal to customers.
But how does an organisation develop a ‘decent’ product or service? Just as importantly, how do customers deem and perceive that it is ‘decent’? What is a ‘decent’ product?’
Interpretations & perception of a ‘decent’ product
As an adjective decent is defined as, “conforming to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, modesty”. It can also be described as “adequate; fair; passable, suitable; appropriate.”
Human perception involves both physical and psychological processes. The way that we interpret sensations is influenced by our available knowledge, experiences, and thoughts. For example, upon walking into a restaurant and smelling the scent of curry, the sensation is the scent receptors detecting the aroma of curry, but the perception may be “Yeess, this smells like the delicious chicken curry my Indian neighbour cooked for us when I was a child.”
In combination, a ‘decent’ product and service also has goods-character, which Menger described must be simultaneously present with the following prerequisites “(1) a human need (2) such properties as render the thing capable of being brought into a causal connection with the satisfaction of this need (3) Human knowledge of this causal connection and (4) Command of the (item) sufficient to direct it to the satisfaction of the need.” (as cited in Mitreanu, 2018, p. 8).
Hence, in a free flowing market economy, a ‘decent’ product has inferences of a supply by a vendor that conforms to a purchaser or customer’s perception of a demand and need. In other words, the customer sees the vendor’s product or service as suitable or appropriate and above all, has satisfactorily met a purchaser/ customer’s perceived criteria.
As Theodore Levitt put it, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” Implicitly, it is the quarter-inch hole that people perceive that conforms to what they want to buy. Therefore, the product supplied must also correspond to the customer’s perceived conformity.
Influencers of a ‘decent’ product
Into the next few articles, we will explore various concepts and theories of influencers on customer demand and perception. They range from human nature and psychology, digitalisation and effects, business level strategies and industry dynamics that include:-
- Roles of Moments of truth and attention marketing on customer buying behaviour
- Moments of truth that influence perception and customer buying behaviour
- Customer expectations and needs which attribute to demand
- Continuum of the commoditization or innovation of a product and service which attributes to its supply
- Vendor business level strategy to create demand for the product and service
Building a richer picture of these influencers arms organisations with tools and techniques to better match their supply to satisfactorily meet customers perception of product conformity, demands and needs.
- Anonymous. (n.d.). What is perception? Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/msstate-waymaker-psychology/chapter/reading-what-is-perception/
- CFI Education Inc. (2021). Free market. Retrieved from https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/economics/free-market/
- CFI Education. (2021). Products & Services: Working definitions and key differences. Retrieved from https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/other/products-and-services/
- Dictionary.com. (2021). Decent. Retrieved from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/decent
- Mitreanu, C. (2018). A natural theory of needs and value. Retrieved from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/58b0d0ce4402430e14684ebf/t/5f2b0f68c6c1ab3c0aa92100/1596657528858/CristianMitreanu-RedefiningStrategy-TheoryOfNeedsAndValue-20181015.pdf