Human Experience Design - Learning Design

Merchantability – The correlation between the design and the achievable business position in the digital commodity market

… continue of the Marketability – The correlation between the design and the achievable business position in the digital commodity market

Going from free to a product for purchase is a big leap. None of the below price ranges have such a big difference between them. To reach this perceptual stage on the users’ side, the core workflow of the product has to be already fully functional and optimized for the target group’s pre-concept of a working solution.

(the price ranges are for illustration, the actual prices are vary based on industry, geography and trends)

  1. Affordable (~ 1-15 USD). Low price is already a price, since the visitors are asked to open their wallets for a stranger. For that, that ‘stranger’ needs to be an established host providing the functionalities as per advertised. If this is proven, users tend to be forgiving towards smaller issues, such as small visual bugs, some small functionality bug, partly polished complementary pages, missing convenience features, e.g., avatar editing or bulk uploading, just to name some common conveniences.
  2. Professional (~ 16-45 USD). At this level, it is expected for all the pages of the application to be finalized and optimized for efficient usage. Ideally, there are no bugs in the functionalities or in the visual display. The layout and content architecture are up to the latest industry standards, and the system messages are thoughtful, explanatory and consistent. Also, the product is expected to be ‘fast and easy’, which means reducing the user’s cognitive effort by offering them a design that agrees with their mental model and considers and supports their visceral, emotional and rational conditions.
  3. Premium (~ 46-200 USD). Highly optimized for the needs of a specific target group a premium product offers a complete experience. This experience starts when users hear about the product for the first time (requires maintaining a reputation) and expands until they reflect on their experiences and recounting them for others (social sharing and advocating). In addition to the flawlessly presented functionalities, on this level, the personalized support, numerous convenience features and additional customization options are available. Note: By offering a niche functionality, a less refined product can be accepted by users and sold in this category.
  4. Carte Blanche. Incomparable innovations and strongly niche products can be offered for literally any price regardless of their condition, mainly because there is nothing out there to compete/compare with them. Enterprise products (and B2Bs) also belong in this category due to the fact that they are sold not to the end user, but to the higher-level decision-makers who cannot judge the value of the product based on how it has been made. They can only judge the offer based on the person who made the offer and his/her associated references. However, if the decision-makers themselves are users of some sort, then the product needs to be above the marketability level; otherwise, just as in the case of the end user, they won’t recognize it as a solution either.

This overview is, of course, is a simplified version of the market reality, but it provides an idea of how a product with certain conditions can be received on the visitors’ side. I hope I have provided some useful pointers concerning what to look out for when setting up the expectations for a product’s performance in different market segments.


  • reply
    Chris Heron
    May 6, 2020

    Hi, it’s interesting but for me this discourse is also about how the business model is represented and increasingly the Why? We have different perspectives here which should be informing for both of us. Speak tomorrow.

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