There is much that could be discussed about the demise of Juicero, the Silicon Valley company that raised nearly $120 million to develop a $799 (cut to $399) home juicer, which announced that it was shutting down this week.
I don’t know the all the details of the product or the company, but here is a quick overview:
- Even at $399, for a special-purpose appliance, it was expensive
- The product was loaded with features like wireless connectivity, a built in scanner, and enough smarts to require a microprocessor
- It required packets to make the juice that cost $5-$7 each (In the range of what I can pay at my local pressed juice shop)
- The product produced enough force to lift two Teslas, but it’s not needed because…
- According to Bloomberg’s report in April, you could squeeze the packets by handwith the same results
- The product is over 400 custom made parts
Whenever I come across a product like this, it is a reminder that it’s too easy to get stuck focusing on methods (product features) instead of customer outcome.
Really, all I want is a juice.
At the end of the day, I just want a fresh juice for maybe two or three outcomes. I want it because it contributes to my well-being and makes me feel healthy. That has value to me. Sometimes, visiting a juice bar is a good alternative to meeting someone at Starbucks. That’s a different outcome, with more value, and I am willing to pay more for it.
We often obsess about product and features, but the reality is that focusing on customer outcomes give us a better perspective on how to maximize value. It may be apparent to others why someone needs Internet connectivity for their juicer. But if it doesn’t enhance the outcome, it’s not only unnecessary, it carries negative value and is a distraction.
Product and services outcomes are best viewed through the dual lenses of the customer value, the benefits of the offering less the total cost, and customer experience, which looks at the end-to-end journey of the customer’s interaction with your full offering (company included). Getting to optimize optimize customer value and experience are those that really understand the "Why"--the reason customers buy the products.
Great companies get the customer value-experience right from the beginning by discovering the "Why." and building their offering around it. Ten years ago, when the iPhone was announced by Steve Jobs, he announced that it would be three things: a media player, a phone, and an Internet communications device. Every feature he spoke about that day supported one of those three value components: media player, phone, Internet communications that resonated with they "Why."
Focusing on customer value and customer experience lines up everything else to support those few anchor values and those few customer touch points that make the all the difference. That’s why Apple was so successful with the iPhone; it did those few high-value items right, with layers of underlying advantage. That’s why Zappos was so spot on—those few customer experience touch points that are so critical are done so well.
Truly transformative companies search out and find gaps in value or problems customers are experiencing and reinvent the way a product or service is offered that significantly increases the customer experience by manner the product or service is acquired, consumed, or used. This often involves solving significant problems with current products/services or adding value which tips the balance in their favor. They begin by looking for ideal outcomes and finding frustrations, gaps, value loss, and accepted practices that are no longer viable or helpful. From there they narrow in on developing a product or service that is superior to existing offerings. It also often results in a solution that is democratized: more available, accessible, and simpler. Rather than overloading their offering, they focus on the right balance of capabilities to optimize customer value. That is when transformation happens.
Alternatively, when companies get caught on features rather than outcomes, we they loading things in with the idea that more is better when the reality is, less is more. Too many features are worse than not enough, if what’s included is of real value. Wireless connectivity and Tesla-lifting force did not make Juicero any cheaper or its juice any better. Great outcomes require just the right amount of features, and no more.
The results of focusing on the right outcome can prevent a multitude of disasters. In the case of pressed juice, the simple test of comparing outcomes would give an early indication of value of Juicero. To achieve the same outcome, I can visit my local pressed juice shop and purchase a fresh juice for $6, or have Doordash deliver five bottles of pressed juice for $6.45 each. In reality, Juicero may have been more successful at selling juice packets that could be squeezed out by hand or with a low-cost manual machine instead of creating a high-tech marvel, and created a larger market opportunity.
Focusing on creating the best customer outcome and understanding the "Why" will always result in getting your organization closer to the right product or service. What techniques have you used to optimize customer value and prevent feature overload?
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