Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Applying Newton’s Laws to NPD - II

In the November issue article we saw how the Newton’s laws of motion can be applied to new product development Ref November issue “Applying Newton’s Laws to New Product Development (NPD)”. This article will deal with the detailed analysis of each component and will provide the mathematical correlation between the two conjectures.

In Newtonian mechanics you have to be in one reference plane so that all the activities like motion, acceleration etc can be defined with respect to it. Similarly, while doing the analysis of NPD we will use two reference planes i.e. Company’s reference plane and Customer’s reference plane. By the reference plane I mean the way things are professed and the way it is conceptualized. As the reference plane changes from the customer point of view to company point of view, there is tremendous change in perception and hence aligning the reference planes becomes a gargantuan task. Even though it’s a difficult task, if done successfully it would prove to be immensely beneficial to the company and the customer.

In the first law we saw that “The customer will remain at rest or in other words not buy your product or will buy the bare minimum of products from you unless he is applied by the intangible force of Value addition”.

To move a football at rest, someone must kick it and to throw a stone upwards, one has to give it an upward thrust. Clearly, some external agent is needed to provide force to move a body from rest. Hence to increase the consumption of the product the companies also have to apply intangible force in terms of value addition.

Let us see what the value from the customer point of view is. Value to the customer is the worth in terms of technical, economic, service and social benefits a customer receives in exchange for the price he pays for an offering. Hence
Value = f (technical, economic, service, social benefits) …….. (1)
i.e. the value is the function of these four major components and is directly proportional to each components. Value is considered as the vector quantity as it has both magnitude and direction as the perception of value for customer is different and that of company is different, with respect to the reference planes discussed. Hence the first law states that if the Value addition is done through the change in any four components of equation (1) the customer will increase the consumption of that product. Value can be considered as the Force in that of Newtonian mechanics:
Force = Value
F = V…………………………..………………..... (2)

In the second law we saw that “The frequency of purchase of your product is directly proportional to the number of problems that the product solves for the customer.”
In Newtonian mechanics
Force = mass * acceleration
F = m * a………………………………………… (3)
Mass and acceleration are the factors, which define how fast the body will move and are directly proportional to the force applied on it. If same force were applied to a heavier body and the lighter body, then the lighter body tends to accelerates faster than that of heavier body.

The Mass can be correlated to the “Mindset Rigidity” of the customer. Changing the perception of a customer is a very difficult task. Due to this impenetrability it becomes all the more essential to look at techniques like change management, newer promotion strategies, influential brand ambassadors etc. But this discussion is beyond the scope of this paper we consider, but Mass in Newtonian mechanics can be regard as equal to Mindset rigidity of the customer. Hence,
Mass = Mindset Rigidity
m = MR……………………………………….… (4)

Higher the mass, higher force is required to move the body. Similarly grueling the rigidity of the mind of the customer, higher force is required in terms of perceived value addition to influence his buying decisions.

Acceleration of the equation (3) can be correlated to the frequency of purchase of the product.
Acceleration = Frequency of Purchase
a = FP…………………………………………… (5)
or, Value = Mindset Rigidity * Frequency of Purchase ……………….from (1,2,3,4,5)
V = MR * FP
i.e. Frequency of Purchase = f (technical, economic, service, social benefits) / Mindset rigidity
The above equation shows that Frequency of purchase is directly proportional to the value and inversely proportional to the Mindset rigidity.
i.e FP α V
and FP α 1/ MR
Above equations implies that there are two ways to increase the consumption of the product offered by company. The company can provide more value to the customers in terms of the technical, economic, service and social benefits or they can influence the purchasing decision of the customer by changing their mindset rigidity.

In the third law we saw that “For every action of a company on the product front it has an equal and opposite reaction from its consumers”
This can be understood by considering the following fig.

The Value provided by the company is in terms of usage benefits to the customer, his need accomplishment etc and is like force (Va) acting on the product. The product is similar to an object under the Newtonian mechanics. The Value forgone by the customer is the money what he is paying to buy that product and this is also a force (Vc), which is acting on the product but is in opposite direction of (Va). The customer is bound to think, whether he should buy this product or can do without it? If the Va is greater than the Vc then the customer buys the product i.e. the product moves from company’s hand to the customers hand, else the product lies with the company only.

Assessing and truly understanding value in business markets is the stepping-stone to increasing profitability. Hence gauging and communicating what your products and services are worth to customers are very essential for a company’s success. Finally the customers when deciding to buy the product for use, compares the differential gain i.e. the difference between the value and price. The customer would buy the product when the perceived value is greater than the price. For attaining and retaining loyal customers every company should provide a differential gain greater than that given by the competitors.

i.e. (Value – Price)Company > (Value – Price)Competitors for customers to buy your product.
This can be done by providing same value to customer at lower price or providing more value at same price. Rarely does the price and value change at the same time.

When company looks at coming out with tons of new products, it has to check whether the value it is providing is more than the price. But many a times companies make a mistake in judging the perceived value, as company and customer are in different planes. Hence company should carry out pilot surveys and price the new product according to the perceived value. Once this is done, an intangible force works on the customer and the company makes headway in bending the rigidity of the customer. But this is not a one-time fix, the company should constantly gauge the competition and the changing perceptions of the customer and come up with newer deals – i.e. provide higher value at same price or same value at lower price.

Newton had the feeling of “Eureka”, when the apple fell on his head; it was an external stimuli. Similarly a company should keep throwing apples i.e. value at the customer, so that they also get a feeling of “Eureka” and keep buying the product.

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