Create Products People Will Hate

Create Products People Will Hate

Imagine a world where entrepreneurs deliberately set out to create products that people despise. A world where the goal is to make customers' lives miserable, to solve problems in the most infuriating way possible. Sounds crazy, right? Hear me out, as this counterintuitive approach might just be the secret to unlocking innovation, and creating products that people truly love.

The truth is, it's incredibly difficult to create products that people adore. Most entrepreneurs miss the mark and end up with offerings that are merely "cool" or "kind of liked." These products rarely take off because they don't solve important problems. They're vitamins, not medicines.

To build products that people love, you need to fulfill two requirements:

  1. Address an important need.
  2. Create a product that solves that need in a magical way.

The first requirement is much harder to solve than the second. Most talented entrepreneurs can build magical solutions, but their products often don't address crucial needs. These are the products people call “cool”, "neat" or "interesting." If someone describes your product this way, run for the hills—you've created a wonderful solution to a problem no one really cares about.

But there's another way to find problems that address important needs: research and create products that people would absolutely despise.

It takes a lot of effort to make someone truly hate a product. It usually means the product promises to solve a critical problem but fails miserably. People don't waste energy hating something unless they expect it to solve an important need and it completely disappoints them.

Interestingly, there's a horseshoe effect in emotions. It's much easier to flip someone from hating a product to loving it than from being indifferent to loving it. If you can solve their issues, they can quickly go from hate to love. At my company, Shop It To Me, we were often surprised at how many times we turned initially angry customers into our biggest fans by solving what was frustrating them.

So, to find products people will love, first identify or create products that people absolutely hate. Determine the important need those products are failing to solve, and then solve it in the exact opposite way.

People hate utilities like Comcast and AT&T when the service stops working and customer support takes forever to resolve the issue. The product (Internet, TV, Phone) is super important, and these companies are failing to deliver it reliably. Now, imagine an Internet service that always works, and in the rare instances it doesn't, you can contact someone who proactively and cordially resolves the problem in minutes, for free. That's a product people would love.

You can apply this principle to imaginary products too. For example:

ScreamChore: A product that screams at kids to do chores constantly. Kids would hate it because they value independence and don't like being forced to do chores, as it takes away from their fun time. The opposite: a product kids would love, like a button that automatically does the chores or a way to make chores fun and part of playtime (imagine a viral TikTok challenge on how fast someone can put away clean dishes).

BlackThumb: A spray that withers and kills your lawn or garden. People love their lawns, and destroying them would hit their identity as growers. The opposite: GreenThumb - a product that keeps your lawn looking fresh without effort.

BillMeAnything: A service that sends random, overpriced hospital or doctor's bills unrelated to your service, and is a pain to deal with. Fairness, including being billed fairly, is important. The opposite: a) BillBackBetter - a service that magically resolves bad bills for you with little to no effort, or b) a hospital or doctor's tool that shows you procedure costs in advance (and neighboring costs) so expectations are set and you feel you're being treated fairly.

YellowJacket Nests on Demand: A service that sends you yellowjacket nests to swarm your backyard. Yellowjackets are painful, aggressive pests that ruin the outdoors. The opposite: a product or service that makes yellowjackets go away.

In summary, to create products people love, start by identifying products they would hate. Determine the important needs those hated products fail to address, and then build solutions that solve those needs in delightful, magical ways. It's a counterintuitive approach and one that could lead you to create the next product that people can't live without.