Built to Love: Creating Products That Captivate Customers

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Offers data-driven proof that products and services appealing to customer's emotional needs outsell the competition Provides a clear method and set of tools to enable companies to develop high emotion products and services Includes case examples from a wide variety of industries Emotion is the single greatest lever in building enduring relationships with customers-it's what makes them not just purchase a product or service, but get excited about it. Leading companies do more than produce things that work better. They address their customers' emotional needs-they make them feel better. But this isn't something you can add on after the fact. Your products and services must be built to love from the very start. This book shows you how. Peter Boatwright and Jonathan Cagan have worked on product and brand strategy with market leaders like Apple, Whirlpool, International Truck, PG&E, and many others. They've found that to really connect with customers emotions must be generated by the product itself, not simply tacked on through advertising. And they prove the bottom-line value of product-driven emotion by analyzing the stock performance of companies that sell high-emotion products and through data that show people are willing to pay more for products with emotionally-rich features. After showing that authentic product emotion really does pay off, they move on to how-how emotion can be broken down into its core building blocks, how it is then used to develop new products and services, and how product touchpoints -in particular visual touchpoints - deliver those emotions. Engaging case studies from a variety of industries will help you understand how to integrate emotion into your products and services, regardless of the nature of your business. Emotion is fundamental to all that is human, including the products we enjoy. Built to Love will help you gain loyal, even fanatical customers by going beyond mere efficiency and speaking to their deepest needs and wants.

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Chapter 1 Product Emotions

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We have all seen large “big-rig” trucks rambling down the interstate. Each of those 40,000-pound vehicles is a small business on wheels, driven by an employee or by the business owner himself. For trucks, as with other small businesses, business profits require efficiency. Fuel-cost increases have made profit margins slimmer than ever before, and weight restrictions (on the whole truck—cab and trailer) mean that every pound counts. Money is made delivering payload, so the weight in the cab is minimal, maximizing payload weight.

The truck is not only a business, but is also a home—a very small home, roughly the floor area of a two-person tent, a mini room in which the driver needs to sleep, eat, and change clothes, and also watch movies, read, play video games, and do deskwork. There is no separate living and sleeping area, no place to change or freshen up, few places to store belongings, and no place to prepare even a sandwich. This is where the driver spends his time while on the road.

 

Chapter 2 Profitability of Emotions

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It all gets back to money at some point, and the question of whether or not it is profitable for your firm to provide product emotions. A cost-benefit analysis is a relatively straightforward task for how a product functions. Take, for example, a technology that would increase fuel efficiency of existing cars, adding three extra miles of travel for each gallon of gasoline. That efficiency translates into real money for drivers. Extra fuel efficiency can be valued by how much drivers save in dollars. Firms can then trade off the driver’s fuel-cost savings with the cost of manufacturing and delivering that fuel-efficient technology. If the amount that drivers save dramatically exceeds the cost of providing it to them, it’s a no-brainer. If how much money drivers will save is a pittance relative to the cost, again the decision is simple. If it is close, the manufacturer has a decision to make, but at least it is an informed one based on real dollars.

How does one go about a cost-benefit analysis for product emotions? Just how valuable are they? Company leaders may recognize that product emotions are potentially profitable, but they also know that every opportunity has its costs. Many designers know in their gut the power and the potential benefits of product emotions, but they don’t know how to show their upper management that the resulting products will pay off in the end. Still others believe that emotion-based design is a black art, that only luck will give you a truly high-emotion product, and they don’t know how to justify putting resources in areas where there appears to be no guarantee of success.

 

Chapter 3 The High-Emotion Index: Stock Market Gains from Emotion

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Product emotions are valued, so products that deliver them should generate additional revenue. The previous chapter concluded that the costs of providing product emotions can be quite low, implying that product emotions can be profitable. In practice, what do we find? Are firms that successfully provide product emotions more profitable than those that do not?

In this chapter we look at the macro level of the firm. In particular we want to find out if those companies that are the best at creating emotion are also the most profitable. The goal is to measure the profitability of emotion, to determine a metric that verifies that emotion pays off for companies that invest in high-emotion strategies.

To do so, we conducted a large-scale research project that studies companies’ stock performance over time. We found that emotion pays off not just in times of prosperity, but also during economic downturns!

In our study, we first surveyed the marketplace to identify firms that provide more emotion and those that provide less. We used stock market performance as our basis for comparison. Stock performance is the ultimate measure of performance for a publicly owned firm, scrutinized by those inside and outside the firm.

 

Chapter 4 The Paths to Emotion

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The fundamental goal of all companies is (or should be) to provide greater value to customers. If companies successfully provide value to customers, they will also achieve all the typical business objectives, such as profitability, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and corporate growth.

The previous chapters described how much emotions are valued in terms of stock market performance, therefore it should be highly important to firms to provide customers with valued emotions. Yet because emotions are intangible, it may not be obvious how to build valued emotions into the product. In this and the next chapter we give company leadership two general pathways to provide emotions.

One pathway is better known, but oddly enough it’s expensive and less effective. That pathway attempts to associate the product with emotions, not with in the product itself but by other means, such as advertising.

The other pathway, less well-known, focuses on emotions supported and engendered by the product itself, a cost-effective strategy with long-term profit and brand benefits.

 

Chapter 5 Supported Emotions: The Key to Today’s Leading Products

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Unlike commonly found associated emotions, the less frequently used supported emotions are delivered by the product itself, evoked by features or attributes of the physical product, software, service, or brand. Today’s marketplace is looking for an authentic relationship with its products. Supported emotions are the only means to deliver that authentic relationship.

Supported emotions result in high customer engagement and they also get customers talking. Those who own the product talk to their friends or write on their blogs because customers talk about what moves them at an emotional level. The word spreads. Word-of-mouth offers the potential for exponential sales growth as each customer talks to a few friends, some of whom buy the product, get the emotional benefits and become passionate, and in turn talk to new friends. The reputation builds with experiences that get talked about.

Paraphrasing Field of Dreams, people will come if you successfully build it; here, the word spreads due to the passion that your product creates. It is more than a task fulfilled; rather, an emotional experience has been created. People will come back for the satisfaction of the delivered emotions, wanting more.

 

Chapter 6 Product Emotion Strategy

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If emotion provides a better return on investment (ROI), how do you create high-emotion products that will realize that ROI? In Chapters 1–5 we discussed the importance and power of product emotions. In Chapter 6 we turn to how to design a product emotion strategy for your firm or for one of your product lines, a strategy to consistently deliver a valued and differentiated set of emotions.

The goal is to create products that are different from the competition yet consistent within the current and future product family of your brand or company. A product emotion strategy allows company leadership to be proactive rather than reactive, to be forward looking, to decide how the company should evolve, and to specify and guide what the company should be known for in terms of its products.

Rather than introduce a new product development process, our approach is to inform companies how to adapt current processes to address design that is driven by emotions. In the Introduction of Built to Love we introduced our Model of Creating Products that Captivate Customers. The model is shown again in Figure 6.1.

 

Chapter 7 The Emotion of Form and Touchpoints to Create It

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Sexy sports cars, fierce pickup trucks, bold tools, sleek phones: the visual form of a product exudes emotion. These emotions can be intense and exciting (as with a Ferrari), or they can be the subdued emotions of the comfortable and familiar (as with a Honda). There are no emotionless product forms, for even the idea of emotionless evokes repulsive feelings of deadness, fatigue, and dreariness.

A product’s visual form is a highly influential source of value to customers, steadily supplying product emotions that are experienced every time a customer looks at, touches, or uses a product. Each and every interaction of the customer with the product is a touchpoint, a means to stimulate emotion and implement a product emotion strategy.

Touchpoints are the end result of emotion-based design (or any approach to design). They are the last step in the Model of Creating Products that Captivate Customers (see Figure 6.1 in the previous chapter). There are other ways to create emotion besides visual touchpoints, such as the feel of using a product or of relating to service personnel during a transaction. In Chapter 7, we focus on a product’s visual identity as an example of how to evoke product emotions.

 

Chapter 8 Meeting Societal Needs: Positive Roles for Emotion

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Emotion is fundamental to all that is human, a fact that people recognize, appreciate, and enjoy. Sights, sounds, and surfaces stimulate us through touchpoints; there is no engaging product or activity that does not evoke some aspect of our emotions. Although we all understand that we are emotional beings, what has been poorly understood to date is the extent of the opportunity companies have to provide emotions in products.

Product development as a field has concentrated on how to create products that are of high quality, with desirable functional attributes and characteristics. The nonfunctional part of product development—emotional benefits—often has been seen as some kind of black art, the serendipitous outcome of creativity and luck. Yet emotion not only stimulates initial purchases, it also brings customers back for re-purchase. Emotion creates the loyalty firms strive to achieve for long-term growth.

Emotions are also profitable, increasing sales volume and the ability to price for higher margins. Emotion sells, yet because of uncertainty about how to create products that resonate with customers at an emotional level, many firms focus their innovation efforts exclusively on what they already know how to do well: maximize the performance or functional aspects of a product.

 

Chapter 9 Emotion’s Role in Technology Products

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Chapter 9 examines the emotion of technology in the domains of nanotechnology, medical products and healthcare, space systems, and robotics. Some if not all of these technologies would be considered by most to be unemotional, removed from that which is human.

Emotion is often contrasted with all that is rational and analytical, as in logical arguments versus emotional ones, or analytical decisions versus emotional ones. Technology falls clearly on the side of the objective and rational and may seem like it has nothing to do with anything emotional.

Throughout Built to Love we have demonstrated that emotion is critical to the success of all companies, including those selling technology-based products. We will see that even in the most extreme use of technology, product emotions provide value to customers. The following examples illustrate how emotions affect the design of emerging technologies and how emerging technologies affect our emotions.

Technology today advances with such rapidity and complexity that, for many, fear initially overtakes hope. Think, for example, of nanotechnology, which is the study of nanometer-scale machines that are one-billionth of a meter in size—about the scale of a molecule or 1000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Nanotechnology is used today in products for better antibacterial surfaces, lighter and stronger composite materials, and shinier cosmetics, among others. As nanotechnology advances, it will continue to be developed into products used by people in a variety of arenas, including energy, medicine, and electronics.

 

Chapter 10 Taking Action: Transform Your Products and Brands to Captivate Customers

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Emotion must be embraced in the most in-touch consumer company as well as the most mundane B-to-B company, for emotion is human and its reach is vast. The examples in the past two chapters examine the extremes, ranging from societal issues capturing a deep emotional belief to raw technology that, on first thought, would be far removed from emotion.

Whether the product is a technology, a program to address a social issue, or anything else designed to be purchased by and used by humans, there is an emotion-based business opportunity to be discovered. From customer to employee, from social service to emerging technology, customers and other users have core desires and hopes that can only be fulfilled emotionally.

Built to Love has introduced new evidence of the power of emotion in business along with a means to rigorously identify, assess, and design for emotions that customers seek in the products that they buy and use, whether those products are physical products, services, systems, software products, or brands.

 

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