Better Than New

Being “Market-Driven” Means Being Needs-Driven by morepete
June 19, 2007, 10:22 am
Filed under: Context for Innovation, New Needs

By Pete Mortensen

Always entertaining and provocative, Seth Godin has attempted to categorize the prime motivators of, well, every company in the world. It’s a fun list, with lots of humor (especially about the Troll Driven or Paycheck Driven companies), but it misses a pretty key point.

In Seth’s hierarchy, JetBlue sits at the pinnacle, representing a Market-Driven Company, one that creates “what the market wants.” This incredibly rare category is clearly the ideal. But doing “what the market wants” is not what’s going on here.

JetBlue has tremendous empathy for travelers, and it creates incredibly compelling solutions to meet their needs. People might want a cool TV screen in the back of their chair and a handful of snacks nearby. But they need to travel at a low price and to find ways to entertain themselves during a flight. And yes, that does correspond to what the market “wants.”

But market demand is the expression of a shared human need that few marketers are meeting. The reward to anyone who identifies a big, unmet need is tremendous. Interestingly enough, Godin’s “Founder-Driven” category often fits this rubric as well, largely because Richard Branson is himself brilliant at identifying needs.

The greater challenge for both of these companies is figuring out how to maintain the empathy that has brought them this far. And that will take the creation of a systemic approach to needs identification across the company and functions. But if anyone can do it, they can.

Image via MSNBC


1 Comment so far
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I’m somewhat surprised that this post is followed immediately by the prototype post, which seems to contradict this.

What Branson and JetBlue do well is not identify a “need” or a “want,’ per se, but they recognize a problem, and then try to solve it. JetBlue recognized that people were unhappy with the service, cost, and inconvenience of air travel, and found a solution (until the recent storms). Virgin has identified many problems, from unaffordable overseas airfares to overly complex mobile phone service to unreliable and dreadful rail service.

Simplified, they find what the market doesn’t want (the problem), and then comes up with a superior substitute. Remember, in marketing the most difficult thing is not getting someone to buy your product, but to get them to switch from the product they already buy. These two educate customers what’s wrong with the product they buy now, and why they should switch.

Comment by imajoebob

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