Product Improvement – It’s Not a Wrap
Confession: I love bubble wrap, the large celled variety that sings “Pop Me”. The reward for heeding this call includes tactile pleasures accompanied by the Snapping Symphony in U-minor.
(Long complex sentence coming up.)
So when I un-boxed the new-refrigerator-draw-replacements, having cracked the previous two by kicking them shut, rather than bending and employing arms to jockey them in place (an act of which all parties in our home are guilty ); I was delighted to find sheets of bubble wrap, the kind with jumbo size bubbles.
My love of bubble wrap is not merely a fanciful indulgence. It’s good for my health, and I should receive health insurance credits for time spent so indulging. Snap, snap, snapping bubble wrap is one of the few totally mindless activities in which I engage. Bubble wrap is stress relief. Bubble wrap gives the hyper-active brain a rest. My retirement plans include spending long hours overlooking whatever landscape pleases my eyes, mindlessly meditating, as my fingers work the bubble wrap – a personalized version of rosary beads. (I know some of you are right here with me on this bubble snapping thing. As a child did you blow giant bubble gum bubbles? You still do? Mon Dieu!)
When Product Improvement Isn’t
Back to the box containing jumbo size bubble wrap. Before allowing myself a trip to bubble wrap heaven, I dutifully washed the new drawers and cleaned the refrigerator. The latter task was not intended, but it’s impossible to partially clean the fridge. Cleaning one spot leads to the discovery of another and another, and so on and so forth. Finally, the long anticipated reward.
These bubble are un-snappable. I snapped, stomped, and jump-stomped. Nothing. No tactile pleasures. No symphony. Not so much as a peep. Someone, somewhere, under the guidance of who-knows-what-product-manager, changed the bubble wrap formula. They removed the SNAP! It looks like the real thing, but is in no-way the real bubble wrap. This is product improvement at it’s worst, best dubbed product dis-improvement.
If this post has any real value beyond allowing me to do the bubble-wrap-no-snap-rant, it is to say the following:
Product improvement, the “latest” “greatest” “newly improved” is sometimes anything but.
Product Improvement – When Not To
Have you ever fallen in love with an a pair of running shoes, worn them until holy, then attempted to find another pair? Gone. Often in less than a year. They’ve been redesigned, but the new and improved version is not. You long for the old model. You search the internet. When luck is on your side, you find them on sale at an outlet. You purchase five pairs.
What are product managers thinking? Are they thinking? I suspect they are. But they are thinking about how to get us to buy the new and improved version while the old and faithful is still the best product not unavailable. What’s behind this thinking? Revenue. Profits. Customer satisfaction? Not so much.
What might happen if:
A company has an excellent product and decides to keep making it available until an actual improvement comes along?
Delighted loyal customers? Yes.