Love, hate and indifference

John Moore over at Brand Autopsy has this gem in a recent post:

“[I]f your product only attracts indifferent customers and fails to attract passionate customers … chances are, that product will not succeed.”

-Well said.

You might intuitively reason that that a bad product with negative feedback is the enemy of an über-product that attracts passionate customers. This is not true. I have come to realized that a so-so product that elicits indifference is the actual enemy of a product that elicits passionate customers.

Why is this? With a bad product and bad press, you quickly disband, move on and focus your attention elsewhere. With an indifferent audience, you wrongly hold on to false hope beyond what is reasonable and convince yourself that if you could just persuade a handful of people to move to the passionate side of the scale that others will quickly follow. This rarely happens. You need to have some people early on gravitate to the opposite sides of the love/hate scale.

I think a healthy scale looks something like this:

love-hate-scale.png

Of course you need those that rave about your product. But you also want some people to actually hate your product to keep the wheels of product innovation moving and to keep your feelings of being “comfortable” in check.

Quickly get people from the center black hole of indifference and to the ends of of the spectrum of love and hate (hopefully more love then hate!)

Happy Tuesday!

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8 Responses

  1. You may have fallen for John’s tendency to generalize, when you think of products and passion use the “wart remover test”: are you passionate about wart remover? Do you want to have a relationship with a wart remover brand?
    Passion – or more than a passing interest – may be appropriate for some products or brands but there are far more that elicit no more that passing curiosity.

  2. [cross-posted at Adelino’s blog]

    Adelino … sure, I’m guilty of generalizing the arts and science of marketing. My simple point is: products that elicit strong positive opinions from customers bode well for success of that product.

    A mundane product, like a wart remover, can elicit strong positive opinions from customers. That strong positive opinion might not manifest itself as “passion” or excitement but it sure can manifest itself as a word-of-mouth recommendation.

    But I’ll challenge you on the notion that sane people can’t get excited about mundane products. Toilet Paper is about as mundane a product that exists, right? Yet, Charmin is making people excited about toilet paper through their 20 clean and comfortable restrooms in NYC’s Time Square. Look at all the photos from sane people on Flickr taken at Charmin’s NYC restrooms. Go to YouTube and you’ll see more sane people with videos from their Charmin restroom adventure. Then again, I might be generalizing too much here.

  3. Adelino,

    Thanks for stopping by. I like your “wart remover test”. Sure, the positive response may manifest itself in many different ways for different products – love, passion, excitement – whatever.

    But generally speaking (I couldn’t resist), the road to success is not paved with indifference. You need to stand taller than the fallen commodities that lay in heaps on the battlefield.

    I, like John, think that even wart remover can elecit a positive response. I can still remember while watching “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” (okay I admit that I experimented once with this show…but I did not inhale!) and Rosie’s unpaid recommendation for a multi-pack of tampons. Ever since then (and now reinforced with bottled water), I think most any product category has a chance to have a positive reaction.

    Does anyone else have an opinion one way or the other?

  4. I think any product CAN gain passionate users, but certainly some products are more inclined to invoke passions than others.

    To me, what’s most revealing on this post is appreciating the haters because they provoke you into better product development. It takes a great deal of maturity to really embrace this idea, but it’s very true.

    So, how do you push the Indifferents to one side or the other? Do you ask why they aren’t passionate about the product? WIll that get them closer to a Hater, and therefore they provide a greater contribution?

  5. Brett,

    “So, how do you push the Indifferents to one side or the other?”

    Excellent question. I think the best chance you have is to builtd into the product itself (or the experience) something that is worth taking notice. Also, giving the sneezers or influencials a forum or a freebie can go a long way. I think we all realize that we will have always have some Indifferents, we just want to move as many as we can out of this category.

    What does everyone else think?

  6. I think that would work, but like you imply, Indifferents are indifferent because, well, they’re indifferent. So gaining influence over them is going to be tough. More than that, getting in touch with them is going to be harder, and more costly, I think.

    My gut tells me you’re more likely to push them into a Hater role, at least to the point of getting them to say what they would prefer to see in the product. So efforts should be spent on getting their honest feedback rather than turning them into fans.

  7. I also think it wise to seperate two kinds of Indifferents – those that are Aware and Indifferent and those that are Unware and Indifferent.

    For those that are Aware, they may be indifferent because of time, place or manner. I am not buying or selling a home right now so I am indifferent to this real estate agent (time). I know of a mechanic in Buffalo, but I live in Wichita (place). I’ve heard of Starbucks, but I am not a coffee drinker (manner). It would be unwise to spend much on these reasons.

    Then there are those that are Unware and that is why they have no opinion. This could be a group that you could target. Mike Huckabee had many Unawares but has been pushing hard as of late to shift people out of this category.

    But there does come a time where it becomes too costly (in terms of dollars and ticking people off) to try and move any more Indiffernents to the poles.

  8. I can tell that this is not the first time you mention this topic. Why have you decided to write about it again?

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