Launching a product or service believing that users will simply open their wallets and hand you money just because it exists is what I call the Field of Dreams trap. It’s believing that if you build it, they will magically come.
So why do otherwise intelligent people make this mistake? Usually for one of two reasons.
Ignoring the data
Levi Jeans launched a line of suit separates back in the ’80s. The tapes of the focus groups show the men representing the target market clearly saying, “We don’t want to buy suits from Levi Jeans.” The Levi product managers then had this conversation (no exaggeration):
“Did you hear that? They really want suit separates.”
“And they want to buy them from us! We are going to make a lot of money.”
The product launched and failed miserably. And Levi is a huge company.
Just not having the data
I have witnessed entire business units launched based on the gut feeling, opinion or desire of an executive (if you are Richard Branson, then you can do this). Once the program failed, time was put into finding out why. With little effort, it was determined that the need just didn’t exist.
Isn’t that effort put in at the beginning? Or why is the data gathered seemingly ignored?
The fundamental problem is that we all have paradigms or worldviews that shape how we receive information. The team from Levi had a worldview that said, “Men want suit separates from Levi Jeans.” That little thought tainted how they perceived the data. Think of the movie Inception. Whole lives were altered based on one thought.
You may think that you haven’t fallen victim to this, but it’s really quite easy. So build sanity checks into the process of creating new products and services and be ready to hear things you may not want to hear.