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Products, services or solutions

Di Antonio Caneva, 5 Marzo 2004

The other night I was having dinner with friends and, not untypically, we ended up talking about work. One of us, a charcuterie producer, told us that the main part of production is by now constituted by packaging products in plastics, ready for use. The ladies explained that lettuce is now bought ready-to-serve, packaged in cellophane bags. The logic behind it all is that now, rather than products or services, we tend to supply solutions to problems. Sliced salami, like cut and washed lettuce, are solutions to the homemaking problems of many women, who are increasingly under pressure from jobs and family commitments.
A large hotel recently needed to recruit a large number of personnel for a new establishment, with as great a visibility as possible. We applied ourselves to solving their problem, and succeeded in having them broadcast on Rai 2, which features a limited number of commercials. The response has been definitely satisfactory, and although we did not profit from this operation, we had the pleasure of contributing to the project’s success, by ultimately offering a “solution”.
This is the future: closeness to customers and problem solutions, which – in addition to promoting loyalty – often generate value added, as in the case of ready-to-serve food, which is bought by women because it responds to their needs, and sells at a higher price because of the additional processing it contains.
Confirming the need to increasingly support customers in meeting their needs, Jeremy Rifkin – in his fundamental book ‘The Age of Access’- writes that in the real economy, characterised by shorter product lives and a constantly expanding flow of goods and services, customer attention rather than physical assets is the scarce resource to be allocated optimally.
Offering solutions, however, is not at all an easy thing to do. It requires consistency and dedication, something that everybody boasts, but few truly possess. The public is the best judge, accustomed as it is to selecting among numberless proposals; for projects to succeed, its expectations should be placed at the centre of every proposal.

Translation of the Italian
editorial by Paola Praloran

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