Product Meets Behavioral Science: Faster horses and how to give consumers products they don’t even know they need

Good products solve problems. But when it comes to developing products you need to do more than just ask your customers what they want. After all, as Henry Ford said: “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

So how can we solve problems and create products customers haven’t even realized they need? It’s important to be user-informed rather than user-driven.

Here, we take a look at some top tips to become user-informed.

Locate your users

Figure out where your target audience spends their time and start a genuine conversation with them. Some examples are:

● Pet owners — Go to a dog park and bring dog treats

● Senior citizens — Go to a retirement home and bring a board game

● Makeup enthusiasts — Go to Sephora and discreetly ask shoppers about their favorite products.

Speak to your audience objectively

When speaking with your audience, keep in mind the following types of bias:

● Selection bias — Make sure the people you choose are representative of your target audience.

● Procedural bias — Make sure that neither you nor your audience feels rushed or uncomfortable.

● Interviewer bias — Don’t let your passion influence your audience with coercion or leading questions.

● Measurement bias — Create an open and safe space where your audience can be honest with you.

Clear your mind

Drop prejudices and adopt a growth mindset.

Written objective report

Now it’s time to write a report. Make sure to be aware of the following types of bias while you do:

● Confirmation bias — Are you finding that everything you learned was information that you wanted to hear? If so, it’s likely that you let bias creep into your study. Positive feedback may make you feel good, but it’s the negative feedback that you will benefit from.

● Reporting bias — Don’t just give your team positive feedback, either. You need to share both the positive and negative results, or you’ll undermine your research integrity.

When it comes to new product development, it has taken behavioral science to really understand what consumers want, as often even they don’t know what exactly they need. Here are top takeaways:

● Humans need hand-holding — Especially when we are going to commit to something, we need reassurance that we are doing the right thing. This is why do-it-yourself user portals are often not as successful as expected.

● Pay attention to the seemingly irrelevant — Something that seems as insignificant as the timing of an offer can be the factor that decides whether your customer chooses to buy your product.

● Money is the most expensive way to change behavior — We assume that users are motivated mostly by money, but they are even more likely to take action when given the opportunity to make decisions.

● Clear copy is invaluable — Your website and brochures should communicate clearly, in simple terms with your audience.

● People will subject themselves to suffering if they are motivated — For example, waiting in long lines to make a purchase.

● Behaviors stay the same, context changes — Human behavior hardly changes, but the context we live in exacerbates our behavior. For example, humans have always had short attention spans, but now with prolific tech and screens, our attention spans are even shorter.