They are all products that are used differently than originally intended.
Just because people use your product or service differently than you had planned doesn’t mean you should
fight it. It also doesn’t mean you should change completely what you do. Below are some examples of how
people have used products for non-intended uses.
Products people use differently, encouraging change
White ink becomes White Out.
First, people wanted to be able to print text on darker colored paper, so white ink was invented. Then people began using that white ink to fix their mistakes. Seems pretty logical to turn that into a product of its own and charge 100x more for it.
Another product re-purposing possibility:
For decades, militaries around the world have used condoms to wrap around the end of a barrel to keep water and sand out of soldiers’ weapons. I am sure if it hasn’t happened already, condom manufacturers could develop a condom line just for militaries and weapons that would involve little modification. In fact, they could probably make them more gun friendly and charge more for the same technology, manufacturing, materials and wrapping (in a handy camo color of course).
Products shouldn’t change just because people use them differently
A waffle iron making shoe soles.
Remember the story about the founders of Nike using a waffle iron to make the soles for their new track shoes? Just because people used it for a different purpose doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to risk changing the product’s original use. But if those waffle makers wanted to lisense or sell their technology for others to use, that would be an additional revenue line. But what do waffle makers and chefs know about track shoes and rubber?
What are the takeaways?
There are three big takeaways from unitended use products.
- If people are using your product for something completely different and it is in a niche you are not familiar with, do what you can to monetize it by licensing or selling your technology to other companies.
- If people are using your product in ways other than you intended, but the market is too small, let it be.
- If people are using your product for different purposes (like the condoms) and there is a broader market: repackage, rebrand and charge much more for it.
*http://www.radarnois.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/1972_wafflenc.jpg (waffle iron)
*http://www.recessionwire.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/whiteout.jpg (white out)