Monday, June 16, 2008

Underestimating the Power of Secondary Features

Have you ever spent tons of money on a birthday or Christmas present for a young child, only to find that he/she is more fascinated with the box it came in? I've noticed a similar situation when it comes to high-tech products and the "average" consumer. Sometimes the feature that you just gloss over during your presentation, or worse, don't even mention, is one that's likely to pique the customer's interest.

This Father's Day was a case in point for me. We arrived at my parent's house, where my dad was overly enthusiastic about showing us a new discovery he made about his flat-panel TV and DVD player. When he puts in a music CD, the track titles come up on-screen, along with a standard play/pause menu, controlled via the remote. He had no idea, but absolutely loved the ability to pop in a CD, sit on the couch, and scroll through some tunes! My mom is planning a party with the girls next weekend, and she plans to set up her background music using this newly discovered method of theirs. Of course they don't really have any speakers, but let's take things one step at a time...

We often overlook simple functionality like the ability to play back CDs and control them using your TV. The same goes for features like being able to play back photos on the big-screen, or even connecting the TV to a computer and surfing the 'net using the flat-panel as an oversized monitor.

These hidden gem features go way beyond just TVs and DVD players. Lots of consumers don't know that you can use the same flash memory card in a digital camera that you can in an MP3 player or a digital camcorder, for instance. I'll bet lots of dads that received iPods this Father's Day (or Father's Days past) don't realize they can also play back photos and video on the device. Or what about that portable iPod dock? I'll bet many owners don't even know that they can connect other things, like a different portable player, speakers, or even a CD player attachment, to that nifty device using an AUX input on the back.

It's amazing how much we take for granted that the consumer knows. If you're selling technology products, learn to read the customer and gauge what features he/she might like, and might not care about. It doesn't hurt to say "did you know that this product X and can also do Y?" You might just be surprised at the response.

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Jim V. said...

The customer is reminded prior to purchase. The features and benefits of said players (unless bought at Costco or a vending machine) are usually touched upon by salesperson if they were a thorough seller but once you mention the customer requires an extra cable (s-video or what not) to view contents because of the extra cost involved they shrug it off and just want to pay for their player.

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi Jim V.

Thanks for your comments. You are right, and your reference to the "thorough seller" is definitely an accurate one. But sometimes it isn't about being thorough and telling the customer about every bell and whistle a product has, but actually reading them and determining which extra features they might actually appreciate. If it's a TV for grandma, for instance, she might not care about the ability to connect an HDMI cable; but would love to know that she can display photos or artwork on the screen when it isn't in use. Conversely, a single, 30-something guy might not care that the bezel is made of material that's easily cleaned and not prone to fingerprints, while a stay-at-home mom likely will.

Also, often times a salesperson might take for granted that the customer already knows something simple like the fact that the DVD player can play back CDs.

Of course, I'm sure there are plenty of great salespeople that explain these features. Luckily, it sounds like you're one of them! We definitely need more like you out there.

Thanks, Jim.