Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Functional expects

Functional expects refer to consumer requirements regarding the utilitarian aspects of a product; goods or services must fulfil the function for which one buys them. They express benefits sought by clients: safety, durability, ease of use or maintenance, performance, etc. They influence the physical characteristics of the product, technology used, etc.

Clothing, childrenswear in particular, provide good illustrations of functional expects. In order to satisfy a safety benefit, they must be manufactured with a fireproofed fabric. To offer a durability benefit, the material must also be resistant to wear. A wear-out guarantee, already offered by some manufacturers, is another component related to durability. Fast-drying underwear, advertised by a well-known brand of travel clothing, is another example of product that appeals to functional expects.

In the field of tourism, booklets of various tour operators provide many illustrations of functional expects. For people seeking effortlessness, as much in the choice of destination as in the course of their journey, one finds fixed price, all inclusive, package deals. For those seeking to see much during a short vacation, a benefit related to performance, one finds tours featuring travel by night and visits in the daytime, in several cities or even several countries.

But the best example of formally stated functional expects is without a doubt the request for proposal process based on an often very elaborate statement of work; this document contains numerous characteristics suppliers must respect. This procedure often aims a performance benefit. For instance, with regards to information technology related purchases, respect of specifications insure sufficient storage capacity, a response time lower than an established standard, compatibility with existing equipment or software, etc.

To give rise to new expects, differentiate a product and inflate the unit profit margin, several companies incorporate so many new features in their products that those lose some functionality. Such is the case of several cellular phones and some motor vehicles. It is absolutely impossible to use certain functions or accessories without consulting a user manual often counting hundreds of pages, a daunting and often unfruitful ordeal.

Talk to me about your experience with a product that has lost its functionality.

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