Outstanding product performance can be an important growth factor for companies. But the surrounding aspects of the product—for example, buying advice and customer service—are also an important success factor. And the user experience will only be positive if the functionality of the product matches the expectations, attitudes, and goals of the target segment. So to launch products (or services) as successfully as possible, it is important to build knowledge about the typical expectations and goals of target customers. The goals buyers want to achieve are equivalent to the problems they want to solve. In other words, it is the job they want to accomplish using a product (or service) that customers are really interested in—not the product (or service) itself. The name chosen to denote this customer knowledge is not important. Whether companies use the name buyer behavior research, segmentation studies, buyer insights research, experiential research, etc.—it basically does not matter. What matters is that the relevant expectations, desires, attitudes, approaches, and goals of the people who make up the target segment are mapped in these studies. And the best existing customers are not always the right addressees. For example, in disruptive problem situations, it can be disadvantageous for established companies to stay close to their best customers, as they are usually not potential buyers of disruptive products (or services).
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The Macintosh was not the first Apple computer with a graphical user interface and mouse. The 1983 Apple Lisa already had a mouse, but it was very expensive and sold only moderately. The Apple Lisa cost $9995 in 1983, the Apple Macintosh $2495 in 1984, but even the Lisa was not the first personal computer with a graphical user interface. An icon-based graphical user interface and mouse had previously been introduced by Xerox. The Xerox Star 8010, launched in 1981, was the first commercial computer with this type of user interface. (Cf. Xerox Star 8010 Information System - The Interface Experience: Bard Graduate Center (interface-experience.org); https://interface-experience.org/objects/xerox-star-8010-information-system/.) The Xerox Star was yet again significantly more expensive than the Lisa. It cost $16,595. The mouse, by the way, was invented back in the early 1960s by Doug Engelbart in his research lab at Stanford Research Institute. The first prototype was developed in 1964. (Cf. Firsts: The Mouse - Doug Engelbart Institute; https://dougengelbart.org/content/view/162).
Cf. Larry Downes, Paul Nunes, “Big Bang Disruption. Business Survival in the Age of Constant Innovation”, Portfolio Penguin, 2014, p. 125.
Steve Jobs introduces iPhone in 2007 – YouTube; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnJzXM7a6o. The iPhone is not Apple’s first mobile phone. In 2005, Apple had already launched the ROKR E1 in cooperation with Motorola—the first mobile phone to integrate iTunes. Apple discontinued support after just 1 year. (Cf. Learn How Apple’s First Smartphone Came to Be (thoughtco.com); https://www.thoughtco.com/who-invented-the-iphone-1992004 and “Project Purple”: How the Motorola ROKR E1 became the first iPhone - ComputerBase; https://www.computerbase.de/2021-10/apple-iphone-project-purple-motorola-rokr-e1/).
For the following information on early personal computers, cf. Paul Freiberger, Michael Swaine, “Fire in the Valley. The Making of the Personal Computer”, Osborne/McGraw-Hill, 1984.
Joseph L. Bower, Clayton M. Christensen, “Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave” (1995), in: “Seeing Differently. Insights on Innovation”, edited by John Seely Brown, Harvard Business Review Book, 1997, p. 136.
Fast-food poultry chain Kentucky Fried Chicken did not find the company name funny and sent a letter demanding the company to stop using it. Cf. Paul Freiberger, Michael Swaine, “Fire in the Valley”, op. cit., p. 117.
Ibid., p. 215.
Adam Osborne, John Dvorak, “Hypergrowth. The Rise and Fall of Osborne Computer Corporation”, Idthekkethan Publishing Corporation 1984, p. 11.
Ibid., p. 167 f.
Other names for the first iPhone are: first generation iPhone, iPhone (original), iPhone 2 G and iPhone EDGE.
Cf. Adele Revella, “Buyer Personas. How to Gain Insight into Your Customer’s Expectations, Align Your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Business”, Wiley 2015, p. 3. The following information on the iPhone 2 G (which Revella erroneously calls iPhone 3 G) is taken from Revella’s book.
Ibid., p. 4.
Qualitative interviews need to be interpreted. I have this interpretation, you have another. Who is right? Everyone thinks they are right, right? Are not these interpretations hopelessly subjective? Where is the scientific objectivity? Answer: Interpretations are carried out by subjective minds, but they are not arbitrary. Utterances have meaning. Linguistic Meaning is not the same as the communicative intention of the speaker (which is locked in his mind). One can only speculate about communicative intention. It is different with linguistic meaning. Linguistic Meaning is rule-governed. If I say (under ordinary conditions) that I have 20 bucks in my wallet, then in English it means that I have 20 bucks in my wallet (even if I have memorized the sentence and do not understand what I am uttering). But of course, I will usually want to communicate that I have 20 bucks in my wallet when I perform the utterance “I have 20 bucks in my wallet.” If uttered meaningfully these words have conventional linguistic meaning (“objective meaning”) and intended speaker meaning (“subjective meaning”) as well. A native speaker interpreting a qualitative interview knows the linguistic rules and can therefore grasp the linguistic meaning of the interviewee’s utterances. And these inferred meanings can then be used to draw further conclusions. Drawing conclusions from data and developing convincing chains of arguments is what scientists try to do when they do research. (Cf. Michael Dummett, “Origins of Analytical Philosophy”, Bloomsburg Academic 2014, chapter 13, p. 121 ff, John R. Searle, “Mind, Language and Society. Philosophy in the Real World”, Basic Books 1998, p. 141 and Roland Burkholz, “Problemlösende Argumentketten. Ein Modell der Forschung”, Velbrück Wissenschaft 2008).
The term buyer persona is systematically ambiguous. It is used for the description of a homogeneous group of buyers (customer knowledge) as well as for the group of buyers the description is about. Thus, the term can refer both to the designation (the linguistic representation) and to what is designated. Customer knowledge is of course also systematically ambiguous. It can refer to knowledge about customers (genetivus objectivus) or knowledge of the customer (genetivus subjectivus)—knowledge that customers possess. Here, customer knowledge always refers to knowledge about customers (genetivus objectivus).
Tony Zambito, who claims to be the founder of the interview-based buyer persona concept, speaks of buyer insights instead of buying insights. (Cf. Tony Zambito, “Buyer Insights Research And Market Research that Create Opportunities”; https://tonyzambito.com/engage/buyer-research-and-buyer-insights-that-create-opportunities/). The buyer persona concept grew out of the user persona concept of Alan Cooper, who is also known as an “UX guru.” Cooper has been one of the important players in the user-centered design movement that emerged in the 1980s.
UX—User Experience—design is a precursor and special case of Customer Experience Management (CXM). On user personas cf. Alan Cooper, “The Inmates are Running the Asylum. Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore Sanity”, Pearson Education US, 2004.
Tony Zambito, “Improving Sales Effectiveness With Buyer Personas. #SalesChats Episode 10”; https://salespop.net/sales-professionals/buyer-personas-for-effective-sales/ [#SalesChats: Buyer Personas, with Tony Zambito by Tony Zambito - SalesPOP!].
Tony Zambito, “What is a Buyer Persona? Why the Original Definition Still Matters to B2B, May 27, 2013; https://tonyzambito.com//buyer-persona-original-definition-matters/; [What is a Buyer Persona? Why the Original Definition Still Matters to B2B - Tony Zambito].
Adele Revella, “Personas: Everything You’ve Heard Is Wrong” (2018); https://vimeo.com/270746719 [Personas: Everything You’ve Heard Is Wrong on Vimeo].
The key users, external ERP consultants, and purchasing can also exert an influence—possibly a great one—on the purchasing decision-making process. If this is the case, then the buying center consists of the IT manager, the key users, the ERP consultant and the purchaser. In a buyer persona study, one interviews the lead decision maker, usually a senior executive, who has a high level of expertise in the product (or service) to be purchased. In the case of business software, this is the IT director. If you interview the IT director, then you naturally also ask about co-decision-makers and thus gain insights into the composition of the buying center. The role-based buying center model was developed by Frederick E. Webster, Jr. and Yoram Wind in “Organizational Buying Behavior,” Prentice Hall, 1972. This model does not state that all B2B buying decisions are true group decisions, that there is always a formal equal decision-making body with regular meetings. This is—as Webster and Wind explicitly state—a buying center special case. The occasional argument that the buyer persona concept is obsolete because in B2B companies today it is no longer a single person who buys, but a buying center, is consequently a poor argument. Even 50 years ago, companies had buying centers. And, as we have just seen, the buying center model is well compatible with the buyer persona approach.
Malcom McDonald, “On Marketing Planning”, 2nd edition, KoganPage 2017, p. 80.
Because there are abstract properties or concepts—for example, that of the unicorn—that we can conceive, some philosophers (e.g., Gottlob Frege, in the twentieth century Roderick Chisholm) have assumed that a realm of abstract objects exists. An abstract property that exists in this realm may or may not be instantiated in the material or psycho-social world. For example, the property of being a unicorn—the concept of unicorn—is not instantiated, that is, there are no flesh and blood unicorns. However, the concept is in the world, it is an abstract object that we can grasp with our minds. But the assumption of such an objective realm of abstract entities (properties, numbers and the like) is unnecessary and can therefore fall to Occam’s razor. The non-instantiated property of being a unicorn and the instantiated property of being a clover are abstract entities generated in a process of mental abstraction, which are represented in biological (or artificial) brains (and can be externalized linguistically). If a child sees several objects—for example, balls, cones, and blocks—that all have a red color, then the child can abstract the concept redness from them. From the fact that the child can do this, it does not follow that redness is an eternal object. Only the red balls, cones and blocks do exist in the external world.
On this “Platonist” ontology of eternal abstract objects cf. Gottlob Frege, “Der Gedanke,” in Gottlob Frege, “Logische Untersuchungen,” ed. by Günther Patzig, 3rd edition, Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht 1986; Gottlob Frege, “Funktion und Begriff”, in Gottlob Frege, “Funktion, Begriff und Bedeutung,” ed. by Günther Patzig, 6th edition, Vandenhoeck u. Ruprecht 1986, pp. 19 f; Roderick Chisholm, “First Person, Essay on Reference and Intentionality (Studies in Philosophy)”, Branch Line, 1981, chapter 2.
I return to the connection between job to be done and innovation in Chap. 7. For JTBD, see: Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor, “The Innovator’s Solution. Creating And Sustaining Successful Growth”, Harvard Business Review Press, 2003, p. 75 ff. and Clayton M. Christensen, Teddy Hall, Karen Dillon, David S. Duncan, “Competing Against Luck. The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice”, Harper Business, 2016.
Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor, “The Innovator’s Solution”, op. cit., p. 75.
In practice, of course, the term problem often comes to mean only an unexpected obstacle that must be overcome on the way to achieving the goal. “Houston, we have a problem!”
Levitt himself, in “The Marketing Mode: Pathways To Corporate Growth” (1969), attributes this statement to Leo McGivena (1947). But as early as 1942, an advertisement in a Somerset, Pennsylvania newspaper stated:
Hardware stores report that over one million men bought one-quarter inch drills in one year. Not one of those million men wanted the drills. They wanted quarter inch holes in metal or wood. Cf. No One Wants a Drill. What They Want Is the Hole, https://quoteinvestigator.com/2019/03/23/drill/#note-22083-9. [No One Wants a Drill. What They Want Is the Hole – Quote Investigator].
Theodore Levitt, “Marketing Myopia”, Harvard Business Review, July–August 1960, p. 55 f.
Cf. Michael E. Raynor, Mumtaz Ahmed, “The Three Rules. How Exceptional Companies Think”, Portfolio/Penguin 2013, p. 60 f.
Stephen Hackett, “The Lisa”, DEC 14, 2017; https://www.macstories.net/mac/the-lisa/ [The Lisa – MacStories.
Cf. Neil Rackham, John De Vincentis, “Rethinking the Sales Force. Redesigning Selling to Create and Capture Customer Value”, McGraw-Hill Education, 1999, p. 12; Tom Snyder, Kevin Kearns, “Escaping the Price-Driven Sale. How World Class Sellers Create Extraordinary Profit”, McGraw-Hill Education, 2007, p. 28.
Cf. Larry Downes, Paul Nunes, “Big Bang Disruption”, op. cit., p. 124.
Materials used and aesthetic design are of course not independent of each other. A notebook made of aluminum looks nicer (and it feels better) than a notebook made of silver-colored plastic simply because of the material.
For this paragraph cf. #EIE17: GENERAL SESSION - Competing Again [sic!] Luck with Professor Clayton Christensen – YouTube; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V603pf9s5WA&t=746s.
Cf. Walter Isaacson, “Steve Jobs”, Abacus, paperback edition 2015 (first published 2011), p. 376.
Cf. Brad Stone, “The Everything Store. Jeff Bezos And the Age of Amazon”, Back Bay Books, 2013, Appendix, p. 347 ff.
Ibid., p. 243.
Clayton M. Christensen, “The Innovator’s Dilemma. When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail”, Harvard Business Review Press, 2016 (1996), Preface, p. 9 f.
Ibid., p. 48.
Sustaining innovations can be incremental or radical innovations (breakthrough innovations).
According to Christensen and Raynor, there are exactly three types of disruption: new market disruption, low-end disruption, and hybrid disruption (a combination of the first two types). (Cf. Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor, “The Innovator’s Solution”, op. cit., p. 45 ff. See also: Clayton M. Christensen, Scott D. Anthony, Erik A. Roth, “Seeing What’s Next. Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change”, Harvard Business School Press, 2004, p. 6 ff).
Cf. Der Tag als der Mini kam: 50 Jahre PDP-8 | heise online; https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Der-Tag-als-der-Mini-kam-50-Jahre-PDP-8-2582305.html and Rise and Fall of Minicomputers – ETHW; https://ethw.org/Rise_and_Fall_of_Minicomputers.
Cf. Paul Freiberger, Michael Swaine, “Fire in the Valley”, op. cit., p. 35.
Cf. Christoph Dernbach, Apple I and Apple II › Mac History (mac-history.net), May 25, 2008; https://www.mac-history.net/computer-history/2008-05-25/apple-i-and-apple-ii and Suzanne Deffree, Apple II goes on sale, June 5, 1977 - EDN, June 5, 2019; https://www.edn.com/apple-ii-goes-on-sale-june-5-1977/.
Christensen and Raynor correctly refer to the personal computer as a new-market disruption in “The Innovator’s Solution”, op. cit., of 2003 (p. 39): “The personal computer and Sony’s first battery-powered transistor pocket radio were new-market disruptions ...” In “The Innovator’s Manifesto” of 2011, however, Raynor then calls the personal computer a low-end disruption: “In the PC example above we see a ‘low end’ disruption, so called because the initial market segment targeted by the eventual disruptor settles for seemingly worse performance in exchange for materially lower cost.”(Michael E. Raynor, “The Innovator’s Manifesto. Deliberate Disruption for Transformational Growth”, Crown Business 2011, p. 71.) This would mean that the early personal computer buyers would have come from the group of the least demanding minicomputer customers. Then Apple would have competed with minicomputer makers. But this has not been the case. Raynor here firstly expressis verbis contradicts his earlier assessment made together with Christensen and secondly is mistaken with this judgment.
Paul Freiberger, Michael Swaine, “Fire in the Valley”, op. cit., p. 18.
Cf. Apple-Mitgründer Steve Wozniak - HP lehnte seine Computer-Entwürfe fünf Mal ab (gamestar.de); https://www.gamestar.de/artikel/apple-mitgruender-steve-wozniak-hp-lehnte-seine-computer-entwuerfe-fuenf-mal-ab,33311612.html.
Paul Freiberger, Michael Swaine, “Fire in the Valley”, op. cit., p. 18.
Cf. Joseph A. Schumpeter, “Capitalism, Socialism & Democracy” (1942), Routledge 2005, p. 84. According to Raynor and Christensen, disruptive innovation is likely the cause behind creative destruction, which Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter identified as the primary driver of economic progress. Cf. Michael E. Raynor, “The Innovator’s Manifesto”, op. cit., p. 199 f. and Clayton M. Christensen, “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, op. cit., preface, p. 10.
Rise and Fall of Minicomputers, op. cit.
When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started to develop the Apple II, they helped Atari to design the arcade video game “Breakout,” which was released in 1976. Cf. Steven L. Kent, “The Ultimate History of Video Games. From Pong to Pokémon and Beyond – The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World,” Three Rivers Press, 2001, p. 71 f.
In “Hypergrowth,” however, Osborne and Dvorak write “IBM had already tried to enter the personal computer market ahead of everyone else with their highly unsuccessful model 5100.” (“Hypergrowth”, op. cit., p. 70.) IBM had in fact already introduced the IBM 5100 in 1975. The portable 5100 was unquestionably a microcomputer in terms of its dimensions. It was smaller than the IBM PC 5150 of 1981, but it was not really a home computer, because it cost between $8975 and $19,975 and was thus much too expensive for end users. (Cf. IBM Archives: IBM 5100 Portable Computer; https://www.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/pc/pc_2.html.) Therefore, even though it is occasionally referred to as a personal computer, it is not considered a true home computer like the Altair, the Apple I and II, or the Commodore PET 2001.
Clayton Christensen, “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, op. cit., p. 63.
Ibid., p. 64. However, Christensen makes a mistake here. He erroneously includes the two German companies – Demag and Orenstein & Koppel (O & K)—among the hydraulic entrants (cf. ibid.). In fact, Demag and O & K are old companies that manufactured cable-actuated excavators before the transition to hydraulic technology. (Cf. History | Demag200; https://www.demag200.com/de/our-history and Orenstein & Koppel - Wikipedia; https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orenstein_%26_Koppel.) So the success rate of incumbents is not quite as bad as Christensen claims. It is 50% higher than he assumes. Not four, but six incumbents have successfully mastered the hydraulic transition.
Clayton Christensen, “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, op. cit., p. 20/43.
Ibid. (Italics added.)
Ibid., p. 21.
See the cover of “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (2016), op. cit.
Note for constructivists among readers: Parenthetical note (for readers who know nothing about constructivists): Constructivists/relativists are people who write expressions like fact, truth, or discovery always in quotation marks because they believe that philosophers of science have shown that there are no facts and no true statements. Christensen, by the way, is not one of these people. Now to the main note: First, it was mediocre philosophers (and sociologists) of science who claimed this. They have believed to have shown it, but have not done so. Second, that there are facts and true as well as false statements can be demonstrated quite easily by simple cases. If I open a bottle of Heineken and say “I am opening a bottle of Heineken,” I am making a true statement. If I open a bottle of Heineken and say “I’m opening a bottle of Budweiser,” I am making a false statement. (And if I say “I decapitate an alien that looks like a bottle of Heineken,” I am an idiot or a philosopher of science.) My opening the Heineken bottle is the fact or state of affairs—that which is the case. The utterance expressing that fact is the true statement. The utterance “I’m having a Heineken now” is true if and only if I am having a Heineken now. It is as simple as that. Truth is correspondence between fact and statement. Good ole correspondence theory of truth is not obsolete at all. For truth without correspondence makes no sense. Correspondence cannot be proved (in the logical-mathematical sense of proof), because the probability that an empirical statement is true is less than 1 (maybe the Heineken is an alien after all—it is unlikely, not impossible). But from that it does not follow that we cannot establish this correspondence (by evidence). If I hold a bottle in my hand that looks and feels like a bottle of Heineken and take a sip from it and the liquid tastes like Heineken, then in practice that is sufficient evidence for me that my utterance “I’m having a Heineken right now” is a true statement. I have then proven to myself beyond a reasonable doubt that I am telling the truth.
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Burkholz, R. (2023). On Buyers’ Expectations, Buyers’ Goals, and the Improvement of the Customer Experience. In: Hannig, U., Seebacher, U. (eds) Marketing and Sales Automation. Management for Professionals. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-20040-3_9
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