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Developing "Delightful" Products and Services

Often, product development efforts can be described by the just-a-little-more-syndrome. Usually we know what consumers want and what drives their purchases so as new products are developed it is easy to think "just given them a little more of what they bought before." In facial tissue, it is give them more softness; in combat video games, it is more action. This approach usually results in incremental changes in product attributes which yield incremental benefits and mediocre market results. This is not a bad approach and often these types of projects are needed to fill up a product pipeline. However, truly delighting consumers requires a different approach.

The degree to which you delight your target audience is directly related to how well you know them.

It is important to understand their beliefs and motivations and their habits and practices.


The Goal: Consumer Delight

As creators of new products and services, what would you give to have consumers delight in the products you are designing? What piece of information are you lacking?

Consumer delight is usually witnessed when a product or service makes a significant difference in someone's life. Usually, their in-going expectations have been exceeded.

Consumer delight is indicated by phrases like:

  • "Wow, when can I get some more of that product!"
  • "When will it be on the market?"
  • "I can't wait to tell my friends to come here!"
  • "I wouldn't go anywhere else."
  • "This makes a big difference in my life."

To Delight Your Target Audience Your Product or Service Could:

  • Introduce a new benefit that addresses an unmet need
  • Simplify an existing process
  • Resolve a contradiction
  • Eliminate the need for a current compensating behavior
  • Eliminate a negative of using a product or service

The Forest and the Trees

Designing appealing products and services requires a holistic approach. It requires being able to see the entire forest as well as the individual trees. As individuals, we usually excel at seeing either the big picture or important details. Creating a model that includes the forest / big picture (where we are going) with the trees / details (ways to get there) will greatly aid product development teams to keep focused on what will allow them to delight their target audience.

When developing products there is a hierarchy that I keep in mind that involves experiences, benefits and attributes.

Experiences (The Forest)

The experience entails the entire interaction a person has with your product or service from beginning to end. When people reflect on their lives they often say, this experience shaped me. Life's experiences greatly influence us. Similarly, our experience with a product or service will determine whether or not we repurchase the product or re-visit the establishment. Those who have had positive, satisfying experiences will come back. However, those who are dissatisfied may never let you know the reason for their displeasure.


The benefit is what your product or service does for your end users. It is essentially the promise your product holds. The benefit provided by your product will be physical and emotional. For example, a teeth whitening product delivers a physical benefit of whiter teeth and an emotional benefit of increased confidence and possibly self-esteem.

Attributes (The Trees)

The attributes are the features of your product or service that allow the consumer to experience the benefit provided by your product. Attributes are the basic way the consumer interacts with your product. Attributes are the aspects of the product that are perceived by our five senses. It is a product's attributes that allow it to deliver upon its promise in order for the end user to have the positive, satisfying experience that keeps them coming back.

To Create Experiences That Delight Your Target Audience You Must Understand:

  • What they wish for
  • What would make their life simpler
  • What frustrations they have with current solutions
  • What is going on in their lives before, during and after using the product or service
  • What compensations do they perform to make existing products work
  • What are their sensory desires

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