Products. Every put much thought into them? Sure, if the gizmo you just purchased is fantastic you might tell a friend. If the widget you are playing with is a piece of crap, breaks or does not perform you might tell the world. Beyond the user experience, have you ever thought about how that product was conceived, designed, developed, manufactured, packaged, shipped, presented or installed and made available for the ultimate durability test—–meaning you the consumer?
Before I got into the industry of product development I had a pretty naive view of things. I took for granted the development effort and extensive supply chain that sat behind that new GI Joe figure that was hanging on the store rack. Funny how we form our early views, I recall watching the Tom Hanks film Big when I was 13. The film was really not my cup of tea at that age, heck, I don’t remember much about it at all except for a little snippet when Hanks and his young costar were in FAO Schwarz critiquing toys. The younger star declared that this little toy robot only cost a dollar to make in China and it was selling for a lot more than that, how is that fair? Funny how a 30 second clip can form a long-term splinter in your mind, all I know is that I was pissed the next time I went to the store and that GI Joe was $8.
A few years down the road I have realized that every product, either on the shelf or in your home, or even dispensing soda at your favorite junk food place has an entire history book of product design behind it. It’s not magic, it took work! Now I flip my mind to the dimension of supply chain and backtrack the transportation, packaging, assembly, etc, etc all the way back to the minerals being dug from the earth or grown from seed. Wow.
Contrary to 12 year old logic of Hanks and his little costar, I am not just paying for the manufacturing cost. I am paying for the history, the effort, the labor, the whole chain. Now when I look at the GI Joe (and I still do look at toys, BTW), I wonder how it’s possible that they are so cheap!
What’s your gut feel when you are out shopping around? Do you see an overpriced piece of plastic or do you see the momentous effort it took for it to get there?
Let me know what you think.