The best products interrupt your life!

The following Q&A is based on Anand Chandrasekaran’s talk at the Unplugged 2015, where he spoke about one of his lifelong passions; building great products. Read his fascinating take on what makes great products, how the best ones are disruptive. You can also view the entire talk here.

How does a new product find its way into your life and end up becoming your favourite?
One of the key questions to ask here is how you discovered the product. Word-of-mouth is often the key here. I am not a fantasy movie fan. But I am a raging ‘Game of Thrones’ fan’. Nobody went about looking for a fantasy TV series. Somebody stopped you and said that you have got to stop what you are doing and watch this TV show called ‘Game of Thrones’. With the best products, you don’t go seeking them. They sort of come and interrupt your life, and become a part of it.

The second key aspect is how these products, make you feel. For instance, low cost airlines were able to change the way the travel sector operates, because they offered travelers incomparable cost/convenience at an experience not that differentiated from that of a standard cost airline. No frills yes, but pocket friendly and were therefore were able to expand the traveler volume. Most people may not even consider a standard cost airline anymore.

We have spoken about what makes products successful, what makes them fail?
Products fail when the way a consumer feels about them changes over a period of time. Take international calling cards for instance. They make great promises — huge number of minutes, multiple destinations, and low costs. But the fine print is something else, and the conditions to use them too restrictive. You feel duped, and eventually look for alternatives like Skype, Facetime or other more reliable, less complicated options. Also, is the negative feeling enough to overshadow the positive experiences of the part? Can you ever trust the product again? It will be interesting to see if Nestle’s Maggi 2-Minutes noodles ® are able to regain consumer trust again.

Interesting examples, talk to us about why you think some products stick and some don’t?
Chip Health and Dan Health talk about an interesting model in their bestselling book: Made to Stick. The ‘stickiness’ of any product/idea depends on the following parameters:

The S-U-C-C-E-S model

Simple – finding the core of any idea
Unexpected – grabbing attention by surprising them
Concrete – ensuring the idea can be grasped and recalled
Credible – give an idea believability
Emotional – help people see the importance of an idea
Stories – empower people to use the idea through a narrative

One way to understand this model is by looking at John F Kennedy’s speech about the US moon landing.

I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth. No single space project will be more impressive to mankind or more important for the long term exploration of space.”–John F. Kennedy, Address to Congress, 1961.

If we look at the above statement, we can see that it is very simple and the core of the idea is clearly stated. It is unexpected and it talks about something that had never been attempted earlier. It is concrete because it states exactly what needs to be done and by when. The idea is credible because this is a formal speech. It is emotional because of the sense of commitment. And the narrative by itself is very powerful here. The statement meets the S-U-C-C-E-S model, so it wasn’t too big a surprise when Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the Moon in 1969.

Learn about 10 basic product principles, access the complete talk here


1 Comment

  1. surya mohan

    A great read. I am excited to see a measurable criteria like “SUCCESS model” as one can apply this to their existing or upcoming products and get a glimpse of it’s stickiness. The way it is detailed here with simple example is awesome. Thanks a lot for the sharing.

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