Feature Dumping

I was reading Good enough . It prompted me to write, what prompts manufacturers to add many useless features to a product, which a normal user probably won’t even explore in the product’s life time. Is it desperation to score over competitors? Or is it the mind of an expert psychiatrist at work who is exploiting the “feel goodâ€? factor of the potential buyer? Potential buyer can boasts to the family and friends, “Look at my appliance. It’s different!â€? Or is it the fault of the research wing Who can’t gauge the mind of an average consumer? Feature adding just works at the initial stage. Potential customer is attracted to buy, but afterwards he gripes about it to many.

Harvard Business Review Working Knowledge says, “If you are a manager in a consumer products company, our research presents you with a dilemma. Adding features improves the initial attractiveness of a product but ultimately decreases customers’ satisfaction with it. So, what should you do? If you give people what they want, they will suffer for it later, and that has three follow-on effects.â€?

“Finally, frustrated product owners . . . will spread the word of their dissatisfaction. This appears to be the case with BMW, whose 7 Series cars feature the complicated iDrive system, which offers about 700 capabilities requiring multifunction displays and multistep operations—even for functions that formerly required the twist of a knob or the flick of a switch. BMW included instruction sheets in the glove compartment because it is almost impossible to give the car to a valet parker without an impromptu lecture. According to industry news reports, sales of the 7 Series in the United States in the first half of 2005 were down about 10 percent relative to the same period in 2004. Past studies have established the power of positive word of mouth and the much greater prevalence of its negative form—and most of those studies were conducted before the Internet gave every dissatisfied party a global sphere of influence.”

I find the same apprehension in this post.
Finally what a product manager should do to keep consumers’ dissatisfaction at bay? Well that needs another post.

7 thoughts on “Feature Dumping

  1. Amrit Post author

    Hmmm…that’s why you find it so hard to save contacts in my cell phone — the damn thing has so many features :-).

  2. prancer

    Alka ji on a rather serious note I would say that consumerism and education should go hand in hand and the future of any product would lie the basic fact that it caters to the needs of the end user. In other words are we really able to take the techonological impact on our lives and does it not impair our functionalities by making us more dependent on devices that leads to frustration in case of their breakdown. I came across a presentation once about Japanese companies trying to give their customers a customised approach. Though being a costly excercise it does do away with customer dis-satisfaction in the long run. Please note this factor even.

  3. Alka Post author

    Amrit, very true.
    Prancer, read this:-
    the case with BMW, whose 7 Series cars feature the complicated iDrive system, which offers about 700 capabilities requiring multifunction displays and multistep operations—even for functions that formerly required the twist of a knob or the flick of a switch. BMW included instruction sheets in the glove compartment because it is almost impossible to give the car to a valet parker without an impromptu lecture.
    ===========================
    Who has the time to manage 700 features? And it is stated that driving seat’s height is stored in your car keys. What if you can’t find keys and wants to use keys of your wife?

  4. Alice Bachini-Smith

    If people only *wanted* “initial attractiveness”, they wouldn’t be spreading dissatisfaction later on anyway. So just looking at the facts, it seems they are being sold something they “want” by people who misunderstand that.

  5. Alka Post author

    Thanks for visiting my and and commenting. You have raised a vaild point. But I think, its inherent in human nautre. They feel quite attracted by lots of features at the initial stage. They can’t comprehend the complexity of the situation. It was slowly revealed to them, that you have to open manual again and again to use some features. So it generates dissatisfaction. But if the guys or gal is hardcore techy then they will definitely enjoy experimanting.

  6. Alice Bachini-Smith

    I see what you mean. Maybe then it’s a matter of time before people start being turned off by lots of initial features instead of being turned on (which is the “good enough” point Seth Godin was making, I suppose).

  7. Pingback: bachini

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>