Take two: Human needs are not what most companies are tackling

Published on September 12, 2014

After my first post I got very interesting comments, funny messages, feedback and also some misunderstandings. For those who got a bit confused, I didn’t mean to say shampoo companies were wrong. It was just an example that I experienced in my past life as a marketer; an analysis of how human perspective is different than industry perspective; and how human perspective might open different opportunities for innovation.

I hope I can be more clear this time. I will bring a classic marketing example and an expanded interpretation that my good friend Marco and I presented at IE Business School in Madrid. We started quoting Thedore Levitt (author of Marketing Myopia):

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole”

For those manufacturers that want to innovate by adding more features to their products, or making more sophisticated power drills, we have bad news: people are not necessarily looking for your tools, they are looking for the work that is done by the drill (a quarter-inch hole!).

But we delved a bit more and said that “people might not want a quarter-inch hole, they might want to hang a picture of their family”. And then we went even deeper: “people might not want to hang a family picture, maybe they want to feel closer to their family”.

So, asking “what features should we add to our power tools to be more competitive?” vs “how might we make people feel closer to their family?” might take us to different directions and opportunities. And I think that’s the human approach. Unfortunately, the power drill manufacturer might not be able to answer the second question with their current product portfolio but it must be a good trigger to start asking “what business are we in?”

Have you asked yourself what business is your company in lately?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have a great day,