I just found Instagram, and … I didn’t try it immediately. In fact, I didn’t try it until several of my friends started using it, when I wondered whether I should try it. I still didn’t try it until I saw a co-worker using it. And then I was hooked.
“Eager Sellers, Stony Buyers” (Gourville, HBR 2006) suggests that users of a given product overvalue the current product they have by 3x. Gourville also found that sellers of a product overvalue the utility of their new product by 3x. Multiply those factors together and your product needs to be 9x better to get the customer’s attention.
I have lots of photo applications on my iPhone – some more specialized, and some less – and I consider myself an early adopter for most things technological, yet it took several interactions with friends before I even tried Instagram. And now that I’ve tried it? That’s the subject of another post (you should try it – it’s cool). My takeaway from today is that even with a clear value prop (sharing photos w/friends is cool) it’s hard to get customer attention unless your product is much, much better than the other product.