First let’s get all the disclaimers out of the way. I do not work for Ember. I do not do product endorsements. This is not a product review. This is a product that I do own and will use to highlight a few product management topics.
Principle 1: The Problem
There are people that love gadgets. While there are early adopters who just love to have the newest gadgets, this is not the majority of people. Most people focus on products that solve their problems. So the product manager needs to ask - “What problem am I trying to solve?” This product is intended to keep your coffee or tea at your perfect temperature. Customers hate it when they reach for their mug and realize their coffee is now cold. It had the right amount of sugar and cream. It just won’t be the same if you microwave it. If you could have your coffee at the exact same temperature from the first sip to the last sip, wouldn’t you love that.
The Ember Ceramic Mug aims to solve my problem.
Principle 2: Competition (Alternative Solutions)
Prior to introducing your product to the market place, the product manager needs to look at the alternative solutions. How do people resolve this issue today? How much does a customer spend on the current solutions? Do the current solutions really resolve the problem? I am a tea drinker who ends up with a half mug of cold tea often. I have used mug warmers. Mug warmers do not keep your drink at a constant temperature and are very dependent on the type of mug. I have kept an electric kettle close by to add more hot water as the tea cools. Not ideal. There is always the faithful microwave. Since the microwave is not close to my office, the walk for half a cup of tea is not always worth it. I am sure the Ember team looked at other alternatives but this is just a sample.
Ember’s features met my needs better than the alternatives.
Principle 3: Target Customer/Marketing Approach
How on earth did I find out about this product? I was watching Anthony on TMZ. He announced a product on Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP site that was affordable. He found the Ember mug affordable and he loved it. I found Ember’s website. At the time, the product was sold at Amazon and Starbucks. Recently I have seen promo’s for Ember products using Demi Lovato. I cannot comment on the initial marketing approach but given the price points, it was targeted at serious coffee and tea drinkers.
Yes, I am Ember’s target customer and not Heather from England who was baffled by my purchase.
Principle 4: Pricing
There are many pricing strategies that a product manager can use. I will not comment on any of those here. I want to focus on using different pricing strategies for different sales channels. If you look at the Amazon reviews, you may notice comments that the pricing on Amazon at one time was double the price at Starbucks. This created a lot of negative discussion. The pricing between Starbucks and Amazon are more closely aligned now.
The target customers are willing to pay Ember’s pricing.
Principle 5: Customer Support
After a few weeks of using my Ember mug, the ceramic coating began to peel. As a product manager, I have a soft spot for vendors. I contacted Ember directly via email instead of returning it through Amazon. My email to Ember documented how I used the mug and that I thought they had a manufacturing problem. They responded promptly and sent me a replacement mug. Again if you look at online reviews, you will see that other people experienced the ceramic peel issue. If you have been a product manager long enough you have experienced the unexpected and unexplained defect. For example, a manufacturing issue that affects some of the product but not all, a software bug that only one customer experiences, or a device that locks up in the field but never in the lab. I had sympathy. I received the second mug. Guess what? It began to peel again. I sent them another email with additional detail. Customer Support responded the following way: 1) apologized and acknowledged it was an inconvenience for me, 2) confirmed they had identified and corrected a manufacturing issue that impacted a small number of units and 3) offered me options for resolving my complaint. Perfect. If the customer bought your product, they really want it. Good customer support will help keep a customer loyal to the brand even when there are slight problems.
I have a new Ember mug and I have not had any problems. Like Anthony, I love it.
Thanks for reading my blog. Hopefully you picked up a few tips.