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Demandability: 4 Factors That Want You to Want Me

My first memory of marketing anything was a roadside lemonade stand when I was 10 years old. I don’t think we made much money that day but I remember being faced for the first time with this question: how do we get people to want what we’re selling?

Regardless of what your company does, you ask some variation of this question all the time. I’ve found I’m asking this question more now than ever.

The Search for Demandability

Last year I decided to start really paying attention to successful companies who have been able to create something I just started calling “demandability” or the power to get people to want their product or service.

Is it luck? Is there a method to it? Is it science or art? Is it replicable? That’s what I’ve been searching for. I started looking at a few obvious companies like Apple and Starbucks and then started looking at retailers like Target (and Walmart too for that matter), fairly new companies like Toms Shoes, and even emerging brands that were trying to remake an entire category of products like Nest.

The Real Motivation

My desire to think about this wasn’t purely academic. I had two big products I was involved in launching last year so these questions were front and center. First, my client UpDesk launched their brand and new line of sit-to-stand desks at the end of June. Then in late September my friend Nathan and I launched a product line we’d been working on for several years called Epic Frequency.

The Four C’s of Demandability

In the coming weeks I’m going to break down the four factors that kept bubbling up to the surface as I looked at various companies. The temptation for me here is to over-simplify this but I continue to find that it’s more complicated than I like to admit. Nevertheless, at least one of these four factors seems to be present in any successful company or brand. They are The Four C’s of Demandability:

1. Cost: This is probably the most obvious one but people will buy what’s cheap. Sometimes they’ll buy things they didn’t intend to purchase but it was too cheap not to buy. Other times, however, we pay more for something when there are cheaper options available. Cost is a major component in whether or not something becomes demandable. This is a complex, but vital factor that changes depending on your target market and perception of product.

2. Conscience: This may not be as obvious but the social causes, political preferences, values and beliefs people have can greatly impact what people buy. This factor seems to be on the rise and I don’t see it going anywhere. The big kicker, of course, is that what may be a matter of conviction or conscience for one person won’t be for another person. That’s why this gets complicated quickly.

3. Cool: It doesn’t take long to see that the things that are really unique and stand out seem to get some of the most attention these days. If you have doubts about it, spend some time on Kickstarter and you’ll quickly learn how prevalent this factor is in what does and doesn’t get funded. The “cool” factor isn’t about being liked by the cool kids. It’s about creating something for the outliers and people on the edges, not for the masses in the middle who will eventually come along.

4. Chatter: Word of mouth is the holy grail for products and services. Some things take off like gangbusters and others simmer for a while underground and then the buzz spreads slowly until it reaches a tipping point. The funny thing about chatter around a new product is that once you get some good chatter it begins to perpetuate itself. Chatter creates more chatter especially in our Facebook and Twitter connected world today.

So, there are the four factors. I’m looking forward to exploring each of them more with examples of each factor and also look at how they impact each other. In the meantime, if your company is seeking to increase demandability for a product or service, consider where it may fall in any of these four factors. You may find it will be a helpful exercise.