There is no doubt as to the value of taking existing products destined for the scrapheap and turning them into new ones, complete with different use cases. There is much joy to be had at telling the story of where something came from and what it was in a past life, both for the brand and the consumer.
However, surfacing the history of a repurposed product better suits certain use cases over others. For instance, shoes recycled as underwear might not be as appealing as milk jugs remade into toys. It's important to balance concerns around product quality as well as feelings of potential disgust! What aspects of what you're upcycling could trigger negative (albeit unfair) associations with what it was in its past life?
If unavoidable, how can you control for this with your manufacturing processes? How might you show off this process on your website to reassure customers as to the steps you took to mitigate discomfort?
For instance, if running shoes were turned into drinking cups, people might want to know that they went through a stringent cleaning process as part of their manufacture. If old fruit otherwise destined for the bin were turned into dried fruit jerky, people might want to know what the threshold for using them would be. E.g. "All our bananas are thoroughly checked before being mashed up" or "Despite being a little older, we have a strict 5-step checklist on the fruit we pick. Watch the video here"
By extension, what other quality assurances could you provide? This could be in the form of certain certificates or badges from a known third-party organisation that can further allay fears. For instance, from where were the products originally sourced? What are their own processes? How might these origins and standards help reassure the uneasy customer. For instance, "All our fruit come direct from Organic Fruit Co, who we've been working closely with for years. Check out their website here"..
Gifts are such personal gestures, but they could bring us even closer, by allowing the giver to express themselves more and become a larger part of the gift itself.
Currently, when we send gifts, we can sometimes create a personal note, but beyond that, there is little we can do.
High quality product companies should allow the giver more creative control of the gift, allowing them to choose from a variety of packaging options, scents, colours or custom-printed features that allow the giver to be better-represented within the gift, making them truly unique each time.
Digital product companies needn't lose out - offering the ability to let gift-givers record surprise audio or video messages that are unlocked by the receiver when they click the button in the email.
Gifts should celebrate the bond between two people, so we should design experiences that unlock and explore this natural yet powerful desire to connect, physically or digitally.
https://knackshops.com offers a great example of how to do it well.
In our product choices, we humans crave a complex mix of familiarity and newness. We know what we like, but we're also keen to seek out new experiences. Brands should embrace this, offering a small range of product choices that are either immovable, or variable.
UK eatery Honest Burgers do a great job here, providing a small number of always-on-the-menu burger options alongside other burgers that change by month or by store location.
Where can you provide this mix in the product choices you present to users? First, define what products or features should *never* change.
Second, how you can encourage curiosity and exploration with new ideas, driven by cross-brand collaboration, season or a new technology or ingredient, for instance?
There are many ways to convey scarcity. If you have a range of products that are all similar in certain characteristics, consider exploring how a limited edition can feel especially valuable through the use of contrast. This contrast can come in a variety of ways.
For example, consider visual contrast, launching a rare black item amongst an otherwise white collection, for instance. What visual characteristics do your family of products all possess? How might you play with these consistencies and offer something unique that breaks the mold on purpose to get peoples' attention?
Alternatively, consider contrast in manufacture, whereby scarcity and uniqueness is inferred by the methods used to create the product. A good example of this is Swedish gourmet liquorice maker Lakrids by Bülow.
For their 14th anniversary, they produced a limited run of "slow crafted" liquorice, based on an original recipe by the founder back in 2007. Both the process and the resulting sweet (with its textures and flavours) are distinct from the vast array of other products it sells, creating an enchanting, hard to acquire product that really celebrates the high end credentials of the brand.
Where can you use contrast both dramatically and sparingly to harness the unique power of your brand along with its consistencies and processes?
Allowing customers to tailor your product to their needs is central to feelings of meaningful ownership and long-term attachment to the brand.
However, if you allow for an IKEA effect in your product, how can you underline its uniqueness in your messaging? Letting customers know what is uniquely theirs and no-one else's will enrich the creative process further and heighten perceived value.
Too much choice can overwhelm, heightening feelings that we've not made the best choice, whatever we choose. This is especially the case for those unfamiliar with a product range or market. And with every choice added, this lack of confidence worsens.
At the same time, a sensible amount of well-designed choice allows companies to provide consistently for a range of clearly-distinct tastes. For instance, offering one option for newcomers and another couple for pro customers would allow people to both easily get started and progress with your range.
Set a high bar around expectations of just how much value each product adds to the range. How can you design a carefully-considered range of choices to create clarity, ease of comparison and therefore purchase?
Consider how your range is currently designed? How many options are there? Could it be simplified in any way? Even reducing the range by a small amount means that you're having consumers do less comparative cognitive processing.
Remember that a failure by your product team to do the hard work of simplifying bewildering choice once means your consumers will be doing this work every single time they see your range, increasing analysis paralysis, reducing choice confidence and ultimately leading consumers to associate your brand with confusion and stress. Then, when a competitor comes along with a clear set of choices, bewildered consumers will jump ship.
Don't let this happen to you. Offer a small number of choices that are distinct and easy to understand.