Design Methods #31 – Value Opportunity Analysis

Value Opportunity Analysis helps researchers and designers map the impact of user’s aspirations and lifestyle to product design features. As we have written in Brand esSense and on this blog, where product execution meets the goals of customers, then they will pay a higher price and appreciate any improvement that makes the product better deliver against their goals (or ‘jobs’). Many products and services are designed to improve quality of life, and the connection to improved life quality depends on those things most valued by customers.

Value Opportunity Analysis (VOA) is an approach to identifying the aspirational attributes in a product or service, listing a set of value opportunities to help design teams focus on the the key items to connect the target audience. In Cagan & Vogel’s book Creating Breakthrough Products, there are seven value opportunities, each with a set of attributes:

  1. Emotion: adventure, independence, security, sensuality, confidence, power
  2. Aesthetics: visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, taste
  3. Identity: point in time, sense of place, personality
  4. Impact: social, environmental
  5. Ergonomics: comfort, safety, ease of use
  6. Core Technology: reliable, enabling
  7. Quality: craftsmanship, durability

This approach helps to look at a design problem from different points of view:

  • How does your product or service deliver against key values relative to the competitors?
  • How do very successful products and category failures work and not work, and what can you learn?
  • How can your product or service appeal to different personas?

At TapestryWorks we often use customised versions of this approach to identify market opportunities, either through desk analysis or as an activity in workshops. We often simplify the above list to focus on those most relevant to the business context and also use a more granular model of emotion (the StoryWorks mode). In one project looking at snack products in China, we used a simplified framework to assess the key opportunity areas for innovating around sensory and emotional goals from consumption (see below).

VOA is a great opportunity for a team to work together on rating alternative branded products and services (or prototypes) against a set of criteria to identify opportunity areas from the perspective of what the user is looking to achieve. Above all, the focus on what people value and desire makes this a powerful research tool.


Universal Methods of Design by Martin & Hanington

Creating Breakthrough Products by Cagan & Vogel

Brand esSense: Using sense, symbol and story to design brand identity by Neil Gains

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