The Buy-a-Feature Prioritization Model endeavours to answer some basic questions around product development:
- Which product feature will get customers excitedly telling their friends about it?
- Which will cause them to rush to upgrade their model?
- Which feature(s) will make the customer so happy that they ignore less desirable aspects of the product?
Understanding the Buy-a-Feature Prioritization Model
Choosing the appropriate mix of features can make or break a company, but too many product teams move ahead with product development without first involving the most important group of people: customers.
The Buy-a-Feature Prioritization Model strengthens this decision making process by incorporating valuable customer input. The model is named after the process of gathering this input, where customers are encouraged to “buy” high-priority features.
Implementing the Buy-a-Feature Prioritization Model
There are several ways to implement the Buy-a-Feature Prioritization Model.
Regardless of which adaptation the business chooses, it’s important to conduct the exercise in person. This facilitates deeper discussion about results which gives decision makers better insight into what customers want.
Here is how the product team may conduct a Buy-A-Feature exercise:
- Make a list of features for prioritization, and assign “prices” to each. Price should be relative to the cost, risk, or complexity of developing that feature. Before proceeding to the next step, every participant should be aware of the benefits of each option.
- Then, hand out play money (jelly beans, Monopoly money, etc.) to each of the participants and send them shopping for their favourite features. Some practitioners suggest selling one or more items at a price that no single customer can afford. This encourages customers to work together to purchase high-priority features.
- Observe and learn. As customers negotiate, collaborate, and discuss certain features, the product team must observe intently. Product team members are also encouraged to join the discussion, particularly if certain customers have reached an impasse on a particular feature.
- Review the purchases. Once every participant has spent all of their money, discuss the results in a group. How did they arrive at their decisions? Why was one item chosen over another? Why did two participants pool their money to buy a lower priority feature? In collecting insights, product teams should be as exhaustive as possible.
Buy-a-Feature Prioritization Model best practices
To increase the efficacy of this exercise, consider these best practices:
- Although the Buy-a-Feature can be used with important stakeholders, the results are more significant if the end users are the primary participants.
- If certain product features have similar prices, then group them together. Otherwise, consider the pricing strategy carefully. For example, a participant choosing between two products with a $10 difference in price is more likely to make a subjective decision that gives no insight into the feature itself.
- Encourage participants to share their ideas by suggesting features or ideas not used in the exercise. For best results, ask them how they would value each feature and why.
- The Buy-a-Feature Prioritization Model is a product prioritization technique which asks customers to “buy” features they value the most.
- The Buy-a-Feature Prioritization Model is performed in four simple steps. The Buy-a-Feature exercise can be performed online, but the best results are seen by conducting it in person.
- The Buy-a-Feature Prioritization Model is most effective when there is collaboration and interaction between product team members and participants. Certain aspects of the Buy-a-Feature exercise can be gamed to encourage this collaboration.
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