Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why Won't They Buy?

Don't sell stuff that people don't want to buy.

It usually won't work.

From Marketing Profs:

When Your Slam Dunk Isn't: Customer Misdirection

"What do you do if you've created a product that, by your reckoning, should sell easily—but then it doesn't?" asks Tom Davenport at Harvard Business Online. For Greg Burrill, owner of WGB Homes, the inexplicable failure was a house he built in a suburban Boston development. Despite a price drop and plenty of potential buyers, it sat unsold for 18 months. "Priced at about $550,000," notes Davenport, "it was a substantial investment to carry for a family firm." Like WGB.

The house's unusual layout was, admittedly, something new for WGB—based on feedback from empty nesters who wanted to stay in a family neighborhood but liked the idea of a first-floor master bedroom. "As well as anticipating the day when they would not want to climb stairs so frequently," notes Davenport, "many customers thought the aging of the baby-boom generation would give such houses high resale value."

To figure out why buyers weren't responding to this desirable feature, Burrill asked for input from colleagues, employees, subcontractors and neighborhood residents. And he got his answer: "It seemed that, while those target buyers might imagine they wanted a first-floor master," writes Davenport, "when it came down to buying, they ended up purchasing what they were used to—especially when the trade-off sank in, that they would lose space on the first floor to entertain."

So Burrill reconfigured the floor plan to include an additional master suite on the second floor—giving buyers the flexibility of moving downstairs. And it worked. He not only got his buyer, but also plans to build another house with the same, revised plan.

The Po!nt: What customers tell you they want, and what they actually buy, aren't always the same thing.

Source: Harvard Business Online.

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