The product that I most want to run away with (or, the making of a product evangelist)

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The BOB Revolution

The BOB Revolution

Products that resonate with their users on an emotional level become ingrained in user’s lives and generate their own grassroots marketing buzz. These are the products that users rave about online, tell their friends about in great detail, and wax enthusiastic about to strangers in the grocery line. Building this kind of product takes in-depth knowledge of your user – what they want and need and how they will use your product. It is this knowledge that allows you to connect with your market in a deep way, turning your customers from casual users into true fans.

For example, let me tell you about my jogging stroller – The BOB Revolution. I use it almost every day and have become a BOB evangelist.

These strollers were developed with running parents like me in mind. Actually, what happened is that two guys who were building bike trailers had kids, and they needed to run themselves. They took their bike trailer chops, did a mess of machining and welding, and then tested out their stroller prototypes running with their own kids. I, like the guys from BOB, have lots of stroller needs, and BOB nailed them:

  • I want a lightweight, fast-moving running stroller:  The Single BOB weighs just 23 lbs. (the Duallie 32 lbs.) and has large, 16-inch wheels for low rolling resistance.

  • I need good tracking for long straight runs and maneuverability for tight spots and rough terrain: The Revolution has a front wheel that can swivel or be fixed.

  • I run in ALL kinds of weather: There is a built in canopy for sun and light rain and a full weather shield for running in truly inclement weather.

  • I got out running soon after my children were born and needed to take them with me safely: There are hefty shock absorbers and a car seat adapter bar, so you can hit the trail with your little one in the Graco bucket as soon as 8 weeks after birth. And there is a 5-point harness for excellent safety as your child grows.

  • I need water while running or the occasional coffee while out on the trail:  BOB makes a cup holder accessory with space for drinks and a zipper pocket for keys and the like.

  • I squeeze in my runs whenever I can – often while the kids are napping: The newest BOBs now recline to 70 degrees from vertical to encourage just this sort of behavior. (If you start running with your baby early, he or she will just assume that napping in the stroller instead of a quiet, dark crib is completely normal!)

  • And most importantly, BOB strollers fold up in less than 5 seconds, so I can throw my stroller into the back of the Subaru before my toddlers dash into traffic.

BOB knows me – a running parent – inside and out. As a result, I have become a BOB evangelist. Take the BOB and add some coffee stains, some cracker crumbs, a bunch of mud, a few sunscreen smears, and two cute kids, and you just described my typical run.

All product companies should think about their users the way that BOB does. Ask yourself what your users REALLY care about. Who are they? What makes them tick? What will they do with your product? If you nail the answers to these questions and bake the results into your product design, you will build a base of customers who are more than just consumers – they will be outspoken fans. And that kind of publicity can’t be beat.

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About the Author

Kathy Davies
Kathy teaches at Stanford University, where her students use Design Thinking to design cutting edge products and to reshape their lives, at Stanford and beyond. Kathy has worked with Arena ... Read More 

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