Recommended Reading—Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy From Products to Consumers

by Sara Steever
May 26, 2015

Looking for summer reading? Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy From Products to Consumers by Niraj Dawar makes a compelling case that the core of business differentiation has moved from product centricity to customer centricity.

This is happening in three critical areas in our post-industrial world:

  1. Competitive advantage—We’ve squeezed every penny of efficiency out of production of goods, so now we compete on other fields.
  2. Value add—Activities that add value are moving away from production and closer to customer points of pain.
  3. Fixed costs—Shifting from cost of production to costs associated with customer acquisition and retention.

Today, the quality of any product or service is less frequently a point of differentiation. Goods can be produced and shipped globally at a very low cost. In our new economic world, the point of differentiation has to be solving customers’ problems.

Innovation must move beyond new products or features into the realm of customer needs and wants. What are the hidden costs and risks associated with using your products? Those points of pain surface in the marketplace, far from where products are produced; yet they represent the business opportunities of the future.

A perfect example is a can of soda. In a big box store, you can buy a 24-pack of soda for about 25¢ per can. Take it home, chill and enjoy. So why would anyone pay six times that amount for the same can of soda? Simple—for convenience. Solving the customer’s point of pain (thirsty right now) adds tremendous value to the same can of soda.

The current ag economy is another example. As commodity prices drop and inputs are squeezed, it’s smart to consider what other risks and hidden costs your customers face. Producing an amazing technology alone may not move your company past this current cycle. But there’s opportunity in helping your customers with reducing costs and risks during the purchase, consumption and disposal cycle of your product.

This is certainly a time of change for agriculture. If you’re looking for solid information that will challenge you to take a hard look at your business model, I recommend this book.