What Mel Wants?

Why are some products more successful than others? Why are some products seemingly inferior and yet people still buy them?

Why is there a difference between Coca Cola and Pepsi? Ain’t both just soda of the same colour?

What do your consumers really want? Do you understand your consumers? How can we see if companies and businesses really understood their consumers and hence improve themselves to meet their wants or create “wants”?

To try and understand all of these, we look to deciphering consumer’s psychology and categorise them into psychological models.

I will shamelessly take the example from Mark Rosewater, Chief of Design, from Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc., where Mark discussed on how his team have tried to keep their consumers engaged and their products going for now more than 25 years. All credit goes to Mark, links to his original articles will be at the bottom of this page.

Below are my understanding and application of Mark’s Consumer Psychological models.

1. Timmys & Tammys

These are your “go with the flow” consumers. They like to be “wow’ed” or surprised by new innovation, design or something they felt was “out of the ordinary”.

Timmy leans to deriving the most value out of having new things to experience. The new car model has auto drive! The new phone model has wireless charging!

Timmy: “Tiger Beer now has a Lime & Ginger flavour! How interesting is that!? Shall buy more of these and show my friends/family”

2. Johnnys and Jennys

Johnny and Jenny are your “is this product for me?” people. They derive the most value from products that can enable them to express themselves.

These shoes being matched with those tops would go great! Oh, you have different colour variants of the watch model! Can I customise my phone layout? Lets add a rainbow background, candy coloured keyboard and pink fonts…

Johnny: “Nice red packet!”

An envelop with customized family name (used during lunar new year)

3. Spikes

Spikes are your hard core customers that derives value from driving the best “performance” out of your products.

I can overclock this Nvidia Computer Graphics Card to 200% of its speed! With the UOB One CreditCard, if I credit my salary and if I spend $XX minimum every month and if I giro my utilities and if I also pay my insurance through it, I could get the maximum cash rebate in the market!

Spike: “If I switch my mum’s phone billing address to mine and nominate her mobile line with my home plan, we can both get 15% off! If I do that with my dad as well, and my aunt, and my uncle, and my…. each adds 5% discount up to 30%…”

4. Vorthos & Mel

There are slight differences between Vorthos and Mel but I will just simplify them in this article and refer them as just Mel.

Mel are your “buy for the sake of buying” consumers.

Mel: “Wow, this limited edition Nike Jordan’s looks good! Look at the design, the stitching, the red embroidered logo!”

Wife: “you have not played basket ball in decades!”

Mel: “I will buy it”

Nike Air Mag (Back to the Future!)

These categorization of consumer psychologies are at the extreme ends. In reality, everything is in between or a mix of personalities.

You could have a Timmy Spike mix, a Johnny Mel or a Tammy Jenny Vorthos all together.

More importantly is how we can use this knowledge to understand a business and its products/ service offerings. What kinds of consumer psychology is the product invoking? Does it have the ability to hit on more than one psychological behavior?

Why are some products able to sell strongly for decades?


Thank you for reading

~ Absorb what is useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is essentially your own.

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