👋 Hi, I’m James. Thanks for checking out Building Momentum: a newsletter to help startup founders and marketers accelerate SaaS growth through product marketing.

I’ve recently moved to a new house, and had to buy a ton of new furniture and home stuff.

New bed, new sofa, a vacuum cleaner, and so much more.

I’m also looking to buy a new clothes airer.

Something like this

You might think it’s a pretty simple thing to buy. They’re all pretty much the same style, they do the same job, and besides, it’s only a small thing to use a few times a week.

But in my mind, when I was browsing around looking to buy, my criteria expanded.

Not only was I looking for a clothes airer that:

  1. Had enough space for a load of washing
  2. Was easy to fold down and pack away

but also

3. Is well-designed, and would look good when in use

This surprised me. I didn’t recognise this in advance: I thought I just wanted a basic dryer, like the other millions in use around the world.

But when I was in buying mode, my evaluation criteria changed.

And did you notice what was missing from that list? Price. Whilst an outrageously expensive item would have been an instant ‘no’, it wasn’t an important aspect of the search.

So what does an extremely middle-class search for a random house object mean?

I think there are a few takeaways.

Firstly, desk research and interviews need to be supplemented with observational research. We’re human: our brains lie to us without us knowing. What we say might not be what we mean, and what we say might not be what we do.

Secondly, there are potential customers for everything, everywhere. From low-cost cheap and cheerful, to high-end boutique offerings of every item, every service. The only question is timing the market right.

And then pricing. A pricing consultant I once worked with told me:

“It’s not the price that people have an issue with; it’s what they understand they are – or are not – getting for that price.”

Chris Hopf

If someone put me to the test and asked me how much I’d spend on a well-designed clothes airer, I’d probably say £70 would be a bargain, and that £130 would be expensive but I’d still consider.

But luckily for me (and unluckily for retailers), the kind of items I’m looking at are priced anywhere from £30-60.

If I had to bet, retailers looked at their costs and their margin and calculated a price that way. If they’d have done willingness-to-pay research instead, they’d be making up to 100% more on every sale.

So there you go. Some random takeaways from a rather mundane shopping search that might inspire you to reconsider how you carry out research, how you think about your customers and the market, and how you price.

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