Your Value Proposition is the reason why customers turn to your company over another. It is what solves your customer’s problem or satisfies your customer’s need. Each Value Proposition consists of a selected bundle of products and/or services that caters to the requirements of a specific Customer Segment. In this sense, your Value Proposition is an aggregation, or bundle, of benefits that your company offers customers. Some Value Propositions may be innovative and represent a new or disruptive offer. Others may be similar to existing market offers, but with added features and attributes. Value propositions can be either quantitative (price and speed of service) or qualitative (customer experience or design). The design of a good value proposition is an effort in itself (see value proposition design), the results of which become this building block.
Question to address in this section
- What value do we deliver to the customer?
- Which one of our customer's problems are we helping to solve?
- Which job are we helping the customer get done?
- Which customer needs are we satisfying?
- What bundles of products and services are we offering to each Customer Segment?
Types of Value Propositions
Your Value Proposition creates value for a Customer Segment through a distinct mix of elements catering to that segment’s needs. Values may be quantitative (e.g. price, speed of service) or qualitative (e.g. design, customer experience). Elements from the following non-exhaustive list can contribute to customer value creation:
- Newness - Some Value Propositions satisfy an entirely new set of needs that customers previously didn’t perceive because there was no similar offering. This is often, but not always, technology related. Cell phones for instance, created a whole new industry around mobile telecommunication. On the other hand, products such as ethical investment funds have little to do with new technology.
- Performance - Improving product or service performance has traditionally been a common way to create value. The PC sector has traditionally relied on this factor by bringing more powerful machines to market. But improved performance has its limits. In recent years, for example, faster PCs, more disk storage space, and better graphics have failed to produce corresponding growth in customer demand.
- Customization - Tailoring products and services to the specific needs of individual customers or Customer Segments creates value. In recent years, the concepts of mass customization and customer co-creation have gained importance. This approach allows for customized products and services, while still taking advantage of economies of scale.
- “Getting the job done” - Value can be created simply by helping a customer get certain jobs done. Rolls-Royce understands this very well: its airline customers rely entirely on Rolls- Royce to manufacture and service their jet engines. This arrangement allows customers to focus on running their airlines. In return, the airlines pay Rolls- Royce a fee for every hour an engine runs.
- Design - Design is an important but difficult element to measure. A product may stand out because of superior design. In the fashion and consumer electronics industries, design can be a particularly important part of the Value Proposition.
- Brand/status - Customers may find value in the simple act of using and displaying a specific brand. Wearing a Rolex watch signifies wealth, for example. On the other end of the spectrum, skateboarders may wear the latest “underground” brands to show that they are “in.”
- Price - Offering similar value at a lower price is a common way to satisfy the needs of price-sensitive Customer Segments. But low-price Value Propositions have important implications for the rest of a business model. No frills airlines, such as Southwest, EasyJet, and Ryanair have designed entire business models specifically to enable low cost air travel. Another example of a price-based Value Proposition can be seen in the Nano, a new car designed and manufactured by the Indian conglomerate Tata. Its surprisingly low price makes the automobile affordable to a whole new segment of the Indian population. Increasingly, free offers are starting to permeate various industries. Free offers range from free newspapers to free e-mail, free mobile phone services, and more (see p. 88 for more on FREE).
- Cost reduction - Helping customers reduce costs is an important way to create value. Salesforce.com, for example, sells a hosted Customer Relationship management (CRM) application. This relieves buyers from the expense and trouble of having to buy, install, and manage CRM software themselves.
- Risk reduction - Customers value reducing the risks they incur when purchasing products or services. For a used car buyer, a one-year service guarantee reduces the risk of post-purchase breakdowns and repairs. A service-level guarantee partially reduces the risk undertaken by a purchaser of outsourced IT services.
- Accessibility - Making products and services available to customers who previously lacked access to them is another way to create value. This can result from business model innovation, new technologies, or a combination of both. NetJets, for instance, popularized the concept of fractional private jet ownership. Using an innovative business model, NetJets offers individuals and corporations access to private jets, a service previously unaffordable to most customers. Mutual funds provide another example of value creation through increased accessibility. This innovative financial product made it possible even for those with modest wealth to build diversified investment portfolios.
- Convenience/usability - Making things more convenient or easier to use can create substantial value. With iPod and iTunes, Apple offered customers unprecedented convenience searching, buying, downloading, and listening to digital music. It now dominates the market.