Out of the millions if not billions of products in the world, I’ve come to the realization that they fall into two major categories. WHAT?! Just two Jonathan? That can’t be right! Well hear me out. The first is products that thrive off of a problem that a market has. The second is products that have undeniable passion behind them. These are products that thrive off the emotions of the market behind them or even in many cases the niche community that backs them. Make no mistake though, in both cases, for any product to have success it needs to appeal to a mass market with an equally mass desire, to either fulfill their hearts with all those warm, fuzzy feelings the product gives them or to solve their deepest pain points and problems. Let’s talk about both, shall we?
Got a Problem? There’s Likely a Product That Solves It
Take an object to the right of you. Yes you, right now, grab it. Ok was it a stapler? A pen? Maybe you’re already holding your mouse (we still use those right?). Well either way they’re all the same in the sense that their function has allowed you to solve a problem. It may not be a huge problem, and it may not be a huge object but nevertheless, it solves a problem for you. The same way bridges and tunnels solve the problem of crossing rivers, the same way a pitcher holds your water and the same way your computer or phone has given you a means of communication, or allowed you to read this top secret blog on our website. The majority of products or objects in our lives are problem solving. Their very form and function exist for a sole purpose, to solve a problem. Ok Jonathan we get it sheesh.
When The Problem Solver & Passion Product Meet
Now take a product such as a bag of Doritos tortilla chips. Does it solve a problem? Depends if your problem is hunger or if it’s your extreme disliking of Lays chips (I crack myself up). Seriously though, this is where a product has fallen into the middle of my magical venn diagram. It’s a problem solving product and a product with passionate people behind it! It’s a great place to be as a brand, because you fulfill the desire of the market wanting to consume this category of snacks and IF your marketing, branding and product is actually good, you build a liking and following to it. Believe it or not, the branding and awareness of Doritos indeed triggers the emotions of the mass population, and makes people love them. It’s no coincidence when they choose a specific market to go after, or how their colors, language, graphics and flavors are in tune with that audience. Branding is another large topic in the marketing world, but all to say that it’s about building a passionate audience, and that products can certainly fall into both categories.
Many products like tortilla chips, ice cream, stuffed animals, or my daughter’s tutu are of course commodities. Yet as you can see, many are products in a mass market of people with a desire to indulge in snacks, and others are in a smaller market with a desire for “cute” things, or to make their spouse or significant other happy. The list goes on and on, just look at everything around you that you don’t need hehe. You bought it because it made you or someone feel good, and at the same time the branding of such a product made you choose one over the other.
Passion Products In Full Effect
One of the biggest examples of passion in full effect is in the fashion industry. Sure, we all need clothes (unless you like being commando) but the reality is that clothing is a commodity and more than solving the problem of getting you dressed, it fulfills a plethora of different market desires such as looking good, feeling good, and representing or standing for something. The lifeline of a fashion brand is reliant on what they represent and who they represent it for. The passion of their audience alone will determine their success. It’s why we’re so proud of a client like Alembika that has seen enormous success and growth through branding and marketing efforts. They have decided to go after mature women as their market and those women are extremely passionate about the brands abstract and creative driven designs!
Every passionate audience then, for any passion product in the world, decidedly takes a brand from zero to hero or vice versa. Yet, there are levels to how unique branding has to be in order to build a cult-like audience and a following of people with a fiery passion for a product. We know as marketers that desire cannot be created, it must exist, but what might be necessary to extract passion for one product, may not be the same for another. In other words, the effort it must take a soda company to compete or stand out from the competition, is different from the effort needed by a company in the teddy bear business. One market has a mass desire to indulge in the taste of soda, while the other market may have a desire to own something cute or to desire to make their daughter happy. It’s a much easier process to create a character from scratch than trying to reinvent the wheel for soda and compete with Coca-Cola.
Products and Their Journey
By definition, products that are purchased because they solve a problem, and products that are purchased due to passion, must both be driven by a market with desire, but that desire takes form in the way of different levels of need or passion. To many this information could be common knowledge, but to many I also hope it’s able to provide some value and insight on the differences and similarities between the two. Ultimately, it’s important to note that different products will have different barriers to entry and if you’re just starting out in business keep in mind that creating or building a product with mass market and mass desire to solve a problem will always be less challenging than creating a product that needs to have a deep passion behind it. It takes a different type of foundation to build an audience and nurture them before pitching something new to them. Something that they have to learn to become keen on.
Have an amazing Friday!
Jonathan is a Digital Growth Marketing Manager at Shared Audiences focused on paid and organic social media, as well as branding and conversion rate optimization (CRO); always testing to ensure funnels are set up for growth. He has launched several e-commerce brands in the health food and pet spaces, and was previously Vice President of Operations for Anfasales Distributors, a service company for supermarkets. He lives in Milford, CT.