Product Box

Goal: Identify the Most Exciting Product Features
The aisles of the supermarkets from around the world are filled with exciting, colorful, wonderful product boxes from all over the world. They tell us of products that are new. Improved. New and improved. They tell us how these products will make us thinner, smarter, sleeker, happier. In the process, the best boxes help move that box from the shelf and into our home.

Product Box is a collaboration framework that lets you leverage your customer’s collective retail consumer experiences by asking them to design a product box for your product. Not just any box, but a box that represents the product that they want to buy. In the process, you’ll learn what your customers think are the most important, exciting features of a given product or service. Make certain you bring someone from your marketing team along for the ride, as the place they’ll end up is certainly going to surprise them.


The Framework

Ask your customers to imagine that they’re selling your product at a trade-show, retail outlet, or public market. Give them a few cardboard boxes and ask them to literally design a product box that they would buy. The box should have the key marketing slogans that they find interesting. When finished, pretend that you’re a skeptical prospect and ask your customer to use their box to sell your product back to you.


Why It Works

Regardless of what we tell them, customers want to believe that the product or service that they’re buying is going to solve their problems. Not just the problems that we told them they have during the sales process, but the real problems that are driving their purchase. In some cases, these may match. In others, customers, even during the sale, may not be able to fully understand, much less articulate, the problems that are driving the sale. Product Box gives customers a way to tap into these deep needs and express them when they are selling their product back to us.

Although your customer is trying to sell you, they will also be selling to the other customers in the room. Watching the interaction among customers is often where you can identify the most important and useful information. Who nods in agreement? Who shakes their head? When? Who asks questions? About what? What messages resonate with other customers?

One of the more common challenges faced by product teams is focusing on benefits instead of features. The advantage of selling the box is that even if your customer has written a feature on their box chances are good that they will sell it by promoting the benefits.

Note that the Product Box collaboration framework is an open-ended exercise. Your customers are in control, and they are free to create the box that they find compelling. You can contrast this framework with the Buy a Feature framework, in which you select and constrain the features that customers purchase.

Product Box in Action