The case is about how people get frustrated with the product with multiple features, especially the electronics. The development in technology has made it possible to load products with several features which might be perceived as useful. However, the multiple features can cause a product to be irresistible to consumers and at the same time hard to operate. Thus, adding too many features into a single product will lead to feature fatigue.
The case analyzes how consumers trade off capability and usability before and after the usage of the product. In the research, the participants were allowed to interact with the actual product and the virtual products were used. Thompson, Hamilton and Rust found that consumers weight capability before they use the product and weight usability more after they use the product. Therefore, consumers are more inclined to choose the product that has a maximum capability rather than maximum usability when they buy the product. Analytical model was derived to illustrate that the amount of features that can maximize a customer lifetime value is less than that maximizes the customer’s initial choice utility.
They argued that there is a way out for the manufacturers to avoid feature fatigue. Since customers tend to weigh usability more after they purchase and use the product, adding multiple features and function into a single product will decrease the usability of the product (Thompson Hamilton and Rust, 2005). Meanwhile, it will decrease the customer lifetime value. Unlike the strategy of adding too many features into a single product, the strategy of adding less features into a product can satisfy the customers better after they use the product. Similarly, the strategy would maximize customer’s choice utilities and product satisfaction in the long run.
The technology has offered companies opportunities to put extra features as they would be into one product. I am currently using an iPhone that has over 10,000 features, which include wireless internet, digital camera, global positioning system and video player among others. However, in the past ten years, the most advanced cell phone could be used only to make a phone call or send a text message. Meanwhile, I have the advanced calculator that draws the graph of functions and run programming. From the accountant point of view, this may not be good because it can be used to do only basic calculation. Thus, I would like these drawing functions and programming features to be removed because they make the calculator be so complicated. All in all, I think the iPhone has so many features some of which end up not being used after the purchase. I would like the global positioning system, TV and video player features to be removed from iPhone because they do not provide long run satisfaction to the buyers.
The unique method to improve and distinguish a product from others is by putting extra features. Thus, this would be one of the reasons why the product design team has decided to keep these products because they provide more satisfaction to consumers. Similarly, the designers keep these products because they have more features, cheaper and take limited time to be designed. It is profitable to them because each additional feature motivates consumer to purchase a product. Although they put preferred capabilities, too many features can make products irresistible to consumers leading to feature fatigue.
Thompson, V., Hamilton, R., Rust, R. (2005). Feature Fatigue: When Product Capabilities Become Too Much of a Good Thing. Cambridge, MA : Marketing Science Institute.