One of the main benefits of creating a smart thermostat company in the Middle East region lies in the lack of local competitors. The needs of the region are aligned with the product, and therefore the demand is expected to be reasonably high. However, likely, a different local company is already developing a similar product. This possibility requires the THERM company to focus its business strategy on product differentiation. A distinct feature set, unique visual design, and ease of use should be prioritized during the project development phase and in the marketing of the product (Makadok and Ross 509).
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One way this could be achieved is to analyze the current design trends in home furniture of the region. People often try to match their purchases of home appliances with the design and color of their furniture. For example, a person whose apartment is decorated with mostly white furniture is less likely to buy a product that is brightly colored because it would clash with the surrounding furniture. An analysis of the most popular colors for home décor should be performed to outline the possible colors and design styles for the product. The overall design can differ wildly depending on the demands of the market. For instance, it is possible that instead of a modern and slick design, a retro approach could be more suited for the product. If this is the case, the electronic insides would have to be placed in a shell resembling a product from the 1980s. It would include a set of physical buttons, a simple LED screen, and other design solutions that were utilized in that era of electronics. However, a complete opposite solution might be required. The futuristic option for the product would involve a minimalist design with capacitive touch buttons that are almost hidden in its shell. This solution is likely to require a monotone color pallet and a slick design resembling technology seen in science-fiction movies.
A unique feature set would be instrumental in product differentiation. It is expected for a smart product to have an app that helps to monitor and remotely control the device. However, to differentiate from other devices, new and engaging features should be implemented into the app to ensure its success. One such feature could be the integration of the thermostat controls directly into the operating system of the phone through widgets. Currently, both of the leading phone and tablet operating systems allow the use of widgets to monitor and control various functions of the device without the need to open the corresponding app. Smart devices are not new, and therefore it is likely that customers would quickly lose the feeling of the product’s novelty. This would make it difficult to make them keep using the app. However, if the app has a widget that allows users to monitor and control the thermostat, it would solve two of the three requirements of product differentiation. It would make the thermostat easy to use, and at the same time give a useful feature for the product. As a bonus feature, the system can be gamified through the use of an “Eco-score.” The amount of energy the customers save by utilizing the product would be calculated and displayed in the app. This information would be broken down by days, months, and years so that the customer can see the long-term benefits of their purchase (Johnson et al. 249).
After the market research is complete, the required features would be finalized and the project could begin manufacturing. Further features could be added through software updates. By focusing on these aspects of the product, it would likely differentiate itself from the possible competitors in the market, as well as create an eco-friendly brand that would appeal to the consumers.
Johnson, Daniel et al. “Gamification and Serious Games Within the Domain of Domestic Energy Consumption: A Systematic Review.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 73, no. 6, 2017, pp. 249-264.
Makadok, Richard, and David Gaddis Ross. “Taking Industry Structuring Seriously: A Strategic Perspective on Product Differentiation.” Strategic Management Journal, vol. 34, no. 5, 2012, pp. 509-532.