Handmade (by your customer)


October 2015, article published in El Periódico de Catalunya

Handmade (by your customer)

Let it be said. Doing something yourself is great. For example, building a bookshelf with your own hands or putting together some IKEA furniture piece by piece should produce a notable satisfaction… I imagine, because I have never managed it despite being a regular customer of the Swedish company.

What do they say about homemade cake? And the little clay figurines your daughter brings home, made by her own skilled hands? Not to mention the cardigan knit by a loving grandmother. I also remember how years ago they used to sell all kinds of collectibles you could put together yourself (from lamps to dollhouses). And all of them, in the eyes of their makers (cook, girl, grandmother, or hobbyist) are more valuable than an identical product bought at the store. This must be why we rush to the kitchen when we receive guests, to show them our affection and commitment in a cooked form.

This attitude has been baptized as “the IKEA effect” by some famous professors at various business schools in an investigation they carried out some time ago. The idea, in short, is that when one builds a product one gives it a value roughly identical to that of something made by an expert. That is, one considers that the price would be almost the same if one had to sell the item on the marketplace (an opinion that an impartial third party would not share).

So, to fulfil this rule two conditions must be met: that we have completed the task (that is, that it is finished), and that at the end we don’t undo/destroy the mentioned product but that it lasts (to give realism to the subject, because otherwise it seems like a sterile exercise).

What can we learn for our company, shop, store, business? For me there are two paths, both connected.

The first, if you want someone to love the product that you sell, let them participate in its creation. The second has to do with the price or with the costs of production. It might sound strange, but can you sell your product for more if the consumer is the one to finish it, rather than you? I know, it seems strange. Ok, let’s try the following: if we sell the unfinished product/service, removing part of the cost, for the same price? That looks better, right?

At an estate near Barcelona they invite you to help collect the vines that they later transform into wine for you. Wine that you have helped to make. And that means that there is a savings in the production but they don’t pass them along to you as a customer. What’s more, they charge you extra for doing it yourself. Because they have understood what it means to you to be part of the harvest.

The challenge lies in finding the balance in the effort that one asks of a customer. If it is too little it will not be valued by the consumer. If it is too much, the product or service will seem inconvenient and inadequate. So innovate, make it by hand…but if possible by the hands of your customer.


Image: http://wearevolcanic.com/interesting-characteristics-services

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