Product Launch Analytics — Do all customer voices carry equal weight?

As far back as memory allows, I have been fascinated with proper categorization and order. While categorization of physical item, devices and possessions are all important, that of ideas is critical to human progress. We talk about Music as Baroque or Romantic. We talk about art as impressionistic or abstract and of pets as dogs or cats and nod knowingly when the owner of the pets talks of cats being lazy and dogs being loyal, because it is an accurate representation of that category.

We talk of tasks on scale of time, the ever present categorization mechanism. This categorization is key to the way we classify ideas and thereby analyze, imbibe and build upon them. This allows us to look at things in their “proper” context and to borrow a phrase from Robert Heinlein, “grok” them.

As in much of everything, Art follows life and nowhere can we see the important of classification as much as in art (and science) of analytics.
A one dimensional model that companies build to understand who their customers are is to devise user personas. This simple but exceedingly powerful mechanism is being used since the 80s and it allows companies to build a mental framework of the target audience personality (hence, persona).

For instance, a fashion retail firm may use the user persona named Tanya having the following characteristics:

1. How she sees herself: “Know who pays full price, Idiots!”
2. Her Driving Factors in descending order are: a. Bargain Hunter/Price (Most Important) b. Selection c. Status and d. Convenience (least important)

It is easy to see that if you are heading an ecommerce marketplace/product, her opinions carry more weight for specific features including let’s say, the clearance section, coupons and sales.
A second persona, let’s call her, Gagan, who is a busy career woman who cares primarily about convenience is more likely to be a good representative for features like Buy Online Pick in Store.
With the advent of Social Media, these personas and associated analytics have gained in even more importance. Now, you as a product manager have the advantage of categorizing and implementing the “right” criticism from the “right” persona into the “right” feature of the product and utilize their unique personality vantage point to your advantage.
At this point, we have answered the question, all are users equally important implicitly. However, how about all user personas? Are all user personas equally important to their corresponding feature?
To illustrate, are all users belonging to a persona similar to “Tanya’s” equally critical to the Clearance Feature?
To answer the question, we must first remember that psychological profiles and user personas are all built on a sliding scale. For instance, while the ideal persona might assign the following weights to the factors Price (40%), Selection (30%), Status (19%) and Convenience (11%), but other users of a similar temperament might assign the weights Price (35%), Selection (30%), Status (20%) and Convenience (15%).

Also, some of the users might be more extroverted and more influential, thereby shaping the ideas of the community as a whole.
The following, simple 2 dimensional, framework is built on the back of these two scales and helps us categorize the listeners into “Must Listen to”, “Should Listen to”, and “Listen only if cost effective”. The final of these broad categorization present s us with largely a long tail of opinions that may never gain too much traction in the marketplace.

For the most part, this follows the typical exponentially decreasing curve, with the Low Priority users’ opinions’ far outnumbering the High priority.
However, it is the high priority users whose opinions are key to shaping your product or offering.
As with any new product or offering, it is important for us to build in the voice of customer into our offering. However, you as product or category managers must take the call on which voice must you listen to.

Postscript: My goal with this series is to give you some actionable items that utilize analytics to solve specific problems. If there are any that you would like to talk about in subsequent articles, I invite you to email me at Abhinav_arora@outlook.com

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