Goal: Differentiate Your Product
In today’s competitive business environment, it is necessary to understand how to differentiate your product to stand out from the competition and gain customers. The Whole Product Game — inspired by Ted Levitt’s “Whole Product Model” — can help you do so, as it categorizes aspects of products based on customer expectations in order to help uncover forms of differentiation. Use this visual technique to discover opportunities to attract and keep customers.
In a white space (a poster, whiteboard, etc.), draw four concentric circles, leaving enough room between each one to place the notes. The circles represent different aspects of your product:
- Inner Circle: Generic Product – the fundamental “thing” that you are marketing
- Circle 2: Expected Product – the minimal conditions customers expect from your product
- Circle 3: Augmented Product – aspects of your product that go beyond customer expectations
- Outer Circle: Potential Product – what could be done to your product to attract and keep customers
Ask your internal team or customers to write ideas on sticky notes related to each circle, and then to post the ideas on the chart.
Once all the ideas are posted, discuss the significance of the resulting chart with your group. How can you use this information to differentiate your product? What must you do to attract more customers? Avoid “going in circles” by guiding your players and focusing on what you can do to go beyond the customers’ expectations. After all of the ideas are posted, work as a team to analyze which direction your product should move in to be one-of-a-kind. Encourage expanding on the ideas and coming up with practical ways to apply them effectively.
Why it Works
Many companies may produce products similar to yours, but what makes customers choose yours over the competitions? The Whole Product Game dives into this question to help you find ways to gain more customers; while the expected product may attract them, differentiation is necessary to keep them. The extensive collaboration involved in this activity can help your team productively come up with new ideas about what can be done to make your product distinct. Use this visual organization and critical thinking strategy to gain insight on how to set your company apart and to go beyond what your customers anticipate.
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