Monday, 23 March 2015

Tactics: Product & Price

Part of the Commercial Aspects of Product Design module.

I have studied business and marketing before, as part of my Engineering degree, and it always made sense to me.  Marketing helps you sell the product; it doesn't matter what the end goal is - to change the world or become a millionaire - the people who buy your products will be concerned with one thing... Money.  How much is it going to cost?  Is it worth the money?  This became screamingly clear in this weeks lecture as we tried to assess the core reason for buying our product.

To explain what product means to us as designers, we answered three questions:
  • What have we learnt so far on our MA about product?
  • How do you think that differs from the marketing definition of product?
  • What perspective are you currently coming from?

If you'd asked me this a year ago, I would have been able to give you a much more straightforward, engineering-orientated answer about what a product was - it's an object with a use.  That is how you separate art and design (or at least according to the UK Custom's agency), design has a purpose.

Now my answer is more nuanced:
Design doesn't have to be about commercial products, in fact in our current practice, this is a much lesser consideration.  Products are used to convey your own personal methodology, it's not all market orientated, and they are dictated by our own personal feelings.  We design for what we think the market should what, not always what they need; poignant design that makes your life better, not worse.

Again, this was re-iterated when we tried to work out the anatomy of a product, this time we used Ezgi's water tap.

The tap is designed to save water; it is eco-friendly, intuitive to use and highly stylish.  We thought that the most appropriate market would be upmarket hotel chains.  When we tried to work out the core reason for purchase, we realised that we had to be more simplistic.  Yes, an upmarket hotel wants a stylish water tap for their bathrooms, but they want it at a reasonable cost.  The tap saves water, which means it also saves money and that was the key to making the design sell successfully.

This felt like a bit of a slap in the face as it completely disregarded the real meaning behind the product that Ezgi had worked so hard to formulate, but I think that's the way marketing goes sometimes.  You really have to drive at the question "why would someone want my product above all others?", and this often comes down to price.