Friday, January 08, 2010

Solar Product Perception

Understanding changes in the solar marketplace and translating those changes into organizational change is the key to long term survival for most solar suppliers. And the best starting point to understand why this is necessary is the concept of "product perception."

Typically, when an organization brings a product (or service) to market, the initial consumers and users are intrigued with the tangible features of the product itself: its performance, its specifications, its size, color, shape, weight, etc. On top of that, the entrepreneurial team that conceived, developed and first sold the product is, by definition, often consumed by these tangible product attributes. Tangible aspects of the product, often become the only focus of the development team.

But as the product moves from technology enthusiasts and early adopters to users who are more conservative and pragmatic, a subtle yet powerful change occurs. Tangible aspects of the product decline in importance and intangible aspects surrounding the product begin to emerge. In the early days, the overwhelming emphasis on product tangibles can be diagrammed like this:

Typically, the product development team focuses on the inner portions of the circle: the tangibles.

But as the product begins to move into the market, and as the markets develop, a change occurs in perceptions of the product: intangibles assume an increasingly larger proportion of the perceived product. The comparison can be illustrated like this:

Customers begin with an appreciation of the tangible product, but they soon appreciate more the aspects of intangibles surrounding the product -- service and support, the image of the company, the nature of the underlying technology, industry standards, or the reputation of the supplier.

So whereas early users of solar power have been most interested in: conversion efficiency, crystalline vs thin film, panel size, inverter specs, maximum power and voltage, etc; mainstream users of solar will be most interested in: supplier recognition/reputation, industry standards, quality, service and support.

Are you building intangibles into your solar product offering?

1 comment:

John Robert said...

Product Intangibles" for an emerging market can evolve. "Green" momentum is building creating buzz for solar. Companies are competing creating unique selling propositions NOW before Grid Parity. Envision Solar (evsi) has Solar Trees and Solar Groves with an architectural eye to create value. Most solar started rather ugly.