Recently the owner of my favourite coffee place told me that she was raising the price of coffee and scones by 10p! That means £3.15 for a coffee and scone... and we get a top-up too. At Starbucks, round the corner an equivalent coffee is £4.50 and there is no equivalent to the home made scone! The owner had told me that they had considered buying cheaper coffee, but decided that would ruin the experience, especially for the regulars. The Courtyard Café has a Unique Buying Tribe.. the core of which are regulars and the rest are attracted by the lunches, cakes and scones, all prepared and cooked on the premises from real ingredients. It is the needs and wants of the UBT that determines what the owners do not what the suppliers are doing.
One way of avoiding the Starbucks slide to 'commoditisation' that Howard Schultz wrote about in his famous memo is to concentrate on understanding your 'tribe' and working to satisfy their needs, especially unmet needs. The use of Kano thinking and the Design Pyramid to define a 'perfect' experience and discover gaps between that ideal and the actual. This will focus the Design Journey and Design Space activities on meeting consumer needs rather than fascinating 'stuff'; and our consumers? They are members of our Unique Buying Tribe... the people who may or do experience our products or services. They determine how successful we will be, as the power moves to them and thinking product-centric and Unique Selling Proposition becomes a dying art.
So what is your story, and who is telling it? You (USP-thinking)? Your consumers (UBT)?