Going Green And Niching: How Product Managers Surviving A Downturn

by drjim on August 17, 2009

Products Need To Have A Little Green Added To Them

Products Need To Have A Little Green Added To Them

Economic downturns don’t last forever, but boy-oh-boy do they hurt while they are happening! I’m not sure about your products, but my the customer that I’ve been consulting with are all scrambling to find ways to make their products easier for their customers to buy. Would you be interested in some tips on how to go about doing this?

The Power Of Green

We all know that all other things being equal, most customers will choose an environmentally friendly product (“green product“) over others. Product managers are currently looking for ways to make their products more green in order to boost sales during tough economic times.

I’m sure that this all seems pretty basic to you; however, the real trick for a product manager is just exactly HOW you go about doing this. It turns out that there are three things that you need to do for your product:

  • Offer A Wider Variety Of Green Services: If you just suddenly show up and offer a single product that you tout as being green, your potential customers probably won’t believe that you are sincere. However, if you add green services to multiple products at the same time, then your entire product line(s) will start to take on a green look &  feel.
  • Hone Your Message: This is a job that is well suited to a product manager. Your product message needs to be “tweaked” so that you work a green component into all of your product communications. No single message is going to get your message across; however, hearing it over and over again will make your potential customers believe in your “green-ness”.

Find A Niche, Fill A Niche

One critical fact that a product manager needs to understand is that your product will never be able to be a 100% green product (unless you are selling plants, and that’s a separate story). Instead, you need to pick your green battles. Here’s how you do it:

  • Find & Master a Niche: Pick one particular way that your product can be viewed as being green and then expand on that niche. There are an almost unlimited number of ways to do this: less electricity usage, smaller carbon footprint, recyclable packaging materials, etc. Once you have picked your niche, make sure that your product roadmap includes plans for expanding how you fill your new green niche.
  • Monitor Your Product’s Financials: Product managers know that going green with their products takes time. You may initially see less demand for your product especially if you have to boost prices to cover the green features. However, track your financials and you should see sales start to come back as your green message gets out to your potential customers.

Final Thoughts

Going green and then finding a green niche that your product can fill are the ways that a product manger can stay successful in tough economic times. You have to examine whether your market is shifting and how your customer’s core needs align with your company’s current product offerings. Going green is something that no customer will object to and they will then be more motivated to buy from you.

Questions For You

What services could you add to your product that would enhance its green profile? Is your green message a sharp and clear message right now or is it all over the place? What green niche could your product fill? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Sigh, ok – I guess that it’s time that I finally get around to talking about the Internet fad-du-jour: Twitter. The Internet is all abuzz about just what the heck Twitter is (a micro-blogging service), who should be using it (apparently everyone), and just how product mangers should get the most out of it (a tad bit unclear here). I’ve spent some time looking into these questions and I think that I’ve discovered the answers that you need.

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