Do you sell just Products or do you sell experiences?

(this is a stream of consciousness, not a structured essay)

An Omnia is a product an Iphone is an experience,

A Rexona bodyspray is a product a Chanel No. 5 is an experience

A Toyota is a product a Ferrari is an experience

Hilton Hotel  is a product an Al-Burj is an experience

A Giodano is a product an Armani is an experience

What’s the difference between a good company and a great company? Good companies sell great products, great companies make great experiences happen. The product is the reason for companies that just sell products. For companies that sell experiences the product is an excuse.
Someone said a company that exists just to make profits is a poor form of business.
No matter how Richard Branson praises the iphone or gloats it’s features that are already available in the market – people are still going to buy it regardless. The cool features and other incoherent babbles of Branson will not make any difference to an iphoneophile. It’s almost like an evangelist talking to a bunch of Christians – the content matters little they already know what they want to hear. That’s why the bible, when truely followed will talk of a different religion very alien to the anglo-saxon versions.

When we use a product, it is dispensable and replaceable. There are real alternatives to what you sell you may distinguish your product from the competition for all you care, at the end of the day your strivings are for the bottomline.

An experience is indispensable and irreplaceable. Once felt, the human soul yearns for it and seeks to perpetuate the moment. It touches the most deepest part of our very humanity. Branson knows the soul of branding and capitalizes on it – it’s a little more than just niche marketing. It’s understanding what moves the human soul and creating vehicles that give such an experience. And in that process he hits pay dirt as he always had. While the product notwithstanding the brand is replaceable, the apple experience is not.

People who use a windows PC use it for a practical reason. People who use the mac use it because they love it despite being in the minority and having major compatibility problems with the majority of the computing world
Bill Gates and the president of General Motors have met for lunch, and Bill is going on and on about computer technology. “If automotive technology had kept pace with computer technology over the past few decades, you would now be driving a V-32 instead of a V-8, and it would have a top speed of 10,000 miles per hour,” says Gates. “Or, you could have an economy car that weighs 30 pounds and gets a thousand miles to a gallon of gas. In either case, the sticker price of a new car would be less than $50. Why haven’t you guys kept up?”
The president of GM smiles and says, “Because the federal government won’t let us build cars that crash four times a day.”

Given the limitations of technology and human intelligence to harness it to the things that we make for ourselves, efficiency and effectiveness of service of a product goes only so far – after which we plunge into the infinitude of the fuzzy world of aesthetics.

The primary reason for Nokia to become the number one seller of phones is it’s pioneering in phones that are more customizable and personalisable. From the phone covers’ colours and designs and the ring-tones right down to the wall paper and user interface. It was a such revolution and moved large swathes of population towards it’s products that threw it’s rival Erricsson into near bankruptcy before being saved by Sony. To be able to personalize a product is an emotional affair and that was the key to Nokia’s success – and they achieved through innovation and creativity. It set a new standard and redefined role of mobile phones in human affairs to such an extent that they pre-occupy the length and breadth of our lives.

In a One Planet Programme by BBC World Service broadcast on 30th April 2009, Mike Williams was interviewing the bosses of 3 car companies at a Geneva Motor Show in March ‘09. Among them were bigwigs from Audi, Totota and Bently (I forget their names).

As cars are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, it has become an issue for the green movement to tackle the issue of global warming with increasing pressure for cars to be built more eco-friendly. But it seems there is no urgency given to the matter with governments around the world giving token commitments to substantiate their lip services in the matter of green transport systems. The politicians themselves have failed to set an example as they zip about in their gas guzzlers.

Williams met the three men

While the other two seemed committed and concerned about going green with their plans for a green future, Stefan Segal of Chrysler was exquisitely unapologetic as he spoke with the passion of a disinterested realist in a “welcome to-the-real-world” sort of drone.

Williams asked : What Kind of cars are you going to make in the future Stefan?
Stefan : (we will be making) for sure emotional cars, I think at the end of the day we will still buy our cars with our heart and not our brain.
W : Is that wise do you think?
S : (sigh) you know, is it wise to fall in love?

That killed me. When you sell experiences people love you for it even though you may be a bastard. Cars are a personal affair for us and to simply call people let go of this love affair and to commit ourselves to the ethics of environmentalism is simply too much. That’s the reality that people feel but will never admit it because we all want to be on the side of political correctness.

You tell the environmentalist to give up jetsetting, or give up his fuel-efficient car – it’s inescapable. The environmentalists must touch the people in a way that gives them a good experience being environmentally conscientious. Rather than selling an environmental message everyone already knows that just makes everyone feel guilty, and at the end of the day hate them for it, they should concentrate on selling the experience of being environmentally conscientious. That’s the tough part.

The crux of the matter? If your product merely fills a need or just satisfies a utility, then people don’t care where it comes from they will change loyalties the moment they get a cheaper alternative. This is not the case if a product appeals to an individual’s emotions

Why is emotional appeal of a product so very important? Emotions are irrational visceral affections that make us humans – something that distinguishes us from the other beings. It is a cold cold world if we only make products to serve a utilitarian function. Products that appeal to our emotions touch our raw human essence in a way that will evoke a catharsis within our deepest unknown voids of our soul from which emanates the very essence of our humanity – that for some strange reason, people find it liberating. It’s like men looking at boobs and buns all day and yet are never bored with it. Why? Because the product is a creature that is made in such a way as to appeal to our innermost senses – an appeal that is hardwired in us so deep that we don’t have an inkling why we behave that way. We’ll never get bored with that.

Someone said People will forget what you said or what you did. But the will never for get how you made them feel.

An emotion is irrational. The rationalization will come after the fact to acquiesce a guilt or fill a void that seeks a reason.

“This Nokia phone has a 5 megapixel camera” you say – but so does several other phones of the same genre. The real reason you bought it was perhaps the fact that it was a sliding phone or you could wrap your fingers around it with your fingertips barely touching your thumb– it just felt good that way. Oh and it comes with a good camera too.

The fact is people need a psychological mechanism to deal with the inner voids in their lives. But to accomplish that they need something tangible and worldly to act as a medium to achieve that abstract state of bliss.

In religion we need idols except maybe for the monk who sold his Ferrari. He felt a need to achieve a state of quiet bliss by letting go because he had found a better product – Buddhism. The Ferrari experience could not sustain itself in the long run.

Companies that merely sell products as opposed to those that sell an experience – the difference is immense. To create products that appeal to human emotions vs those that merely fill a need. That’s the difference between an iphone and a samsung omnia, between a Toyota and a Ferrari.
The Samsung has better features and it was created to rival the iphone. Alas the iphone truly stood out because it was an iphone.
The practical benefits and the economic wisdom (read: overpriced) of owning an iphone is an overzealous excuse to justify buying something that may not be as good as that of it’s closest rival. But people still buy it. The same logic goes for a ferrari vs a toyota. Ferrari does not sell cars – the car is merely a vehicle (no pun intended) to experience the bliss of the ferrari experience. You don’t buy a ferrari to get you from point a to point b. That’s a sin. You want to experience the journey, the destination is just a consequential side effect. The destination was merely an excuse to feel a Ferrari while for a toyota the destination is the reason for you to drive it.

How do you quantify an experience ? Dare i? Sex is an experience – but for the prostitute its a product – for her client they want an experience but end up with a cheap high that makes them more frustrated. The best experience of sex is between lovers – and that no money can buy. So knowing this, the prostitutes that command the highest salary usually sell an experience specifically tailored to suit a niche. Starbucks don’t sell coffee Zouk dosen’t sell $1 soft drinks at for $13- they sell the experience of drinking coffee, they sell the experience of clubbing – why else would people pay $4.90 for a cuppa? The drinks are just the props or a vehicle to take you on that experience, the ambience, the high. Whatever
People will forget the product but they will remember the experience. Because an experience is more visceral – and being something that touches one deeply, people tend to associate the abstractions of their experience with the specific tangible product. It’s easier that way. Products such as these tend to capitalise on certain human tendencies, characteristics or psyches and specifically tailor an experience compressed into a specific product that somehow or rather creates a state of mind that they will never get from another similar product

You don’t do love,
You don’t do sex
You don’t do friendship

You don’t do kisses

You don’t do the work of a father
All these are felt deep within – almost a human instinct expressed within human-social dynamics
The things that we do as a result of such experiences is the emotional by-product of that which was viscerally felt.
If you can do that, my friend – you have a successful product.

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