What types of new features add value for technology products?

Technology firms deliver innovation by adding new features to their base products. These features are either similar in nature to the base, or distinct from base functionality. This research considers the impact on the value of a product based on three factors:

  1. the similarity of added functionality with the base;
  2. the nature of the base product– practical or indulgent; and
  3. ownership of the base product.

What you need to know:

Innovation in technology products often happens through the addition of new features to a base product. This research suggests that adding distinct, indulgent features to existing practical products will increase their value for the end user. If the base product is already indulgent in nature, continuing to add similar features will yield more value than adding practical features.

More Details:

What did the researchers do?

Tripat Gill asked:

  1. Which type of new functionality adds the most value to base technology products – convergent or divergent;
  2. Does the type of base product – practical or indulgent – have an impact on value when adding functionality; and
  3. Does ownership of the product affect perceived value of new functionality?

Gill analyzed past research and conducted an experimental study to answer these questions.

What did the researchers find?

The results of the study suggest that value is added for the user by adding distinct, indulgent functionality to a technology product with a practical base. More pleasure (and therefore perceived value) is added to the use of a practical device by adding features that may not be inherently useful (e.g. adding music to a mobile phone makes it more enjoyable to use and therefore more valuable to own).

However, for indulgent products, more value is perceived when similar, indulgent functionality is added to the base. In an already enjoyable product with no practical use, adding practical features does not add value for the user. For example, adding navigation capabilities to an MP3 player did not add value to the product in the study.

The role of ownership of the base product appeared to be relevant only for indulgent products, not practical ones. It is suggested that owners have a greater attachment to indulgent technology products and therefore perceive higher value in increasing the functionality of these products.

How can you use this research?

Marketers of technology products can use this research to rank new features by which will yield the most value for their firm. They can also use this research to target new products to an appropriate market segment based on prior ownership of products.

Want to know more?

Contact Tripat Gill

Article citation: Gill, T. (2008). Convergent Products: What Functionalities Add More Value to the Base? Journal of Marketing, 72, pp 46-62.

Megan Hall

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Megan Hall