Product Design for a Price Point – Hitting on all Cylinders

Designing a product to hit a specific price point is not easy. It means that you have to operate inside a set of constraints and make painfully hard decisions.

Making these trade offs will result in some features not being included. These features may be ones that your customers will tell you are very important. These features also may be part of your competitors’ products. This is what makes it such an interesting challenge and a difficult task.

When you find the right balance, you can deliver a product that stands out in the market even though it has limitations (think of the Kindle Fire compared to the Apple iPad). Pick the wrong combination and you end up with a product missing features, out of price position, or both.

A few weeks ago, the WSJ ran a review of a sports car that I think highlights a good example of designing for a price point. From the start, the reviewer is aware that this car has had to make compromises compared to higher end sports cars. The reviewer notes,

If this car were built by, say, BMW, the designers would have packed the fender wells with no-profile tires and splendid 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels. Such footwear looks great and commands serious cornering grip.

However, the product designers made choices designed to create the best experience they could given the limitations of their price point. These choices helped to provide the perception of a better, “faster”, experience even though they couldn’t afford to install all the high-end bells and whistles.

The review continues,  noticing the impact of the design choices,

The BRZ, very much by design and very much in the style of the great Mazda MX-5, goes in the other direction, drawing out and exaggerating automotive cues that give the impression of going fast at wholly more sane speeds. One hugely affective cue is auditory: Thanks to resonator tubes pumping intake and exhaust sounds into the cabin, the BRZ snarls and burrs and howls like a garage-built retro rod, even when it’s accelerating away from a light like an ice-cream truck (0-60 mph in about 6 seconds)….The BRZ thus perpetrates a splendid and useful fraud on its buyers: a not-so-fast sport coupe that is an absolute riot to drive.

What a great lesson! Just because you can’t compete head-to-head with a competitor doesn’t mean you can’t find creative ways  to still provide a compelling experience for your target market.



Image Credit:  Klaus M