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Working at the edges

A lot of critically acclaimed art, be it paintings or books or movies or music or advertisements, always allows the viewer room to interpret the plot and weave their own sub-plots.

In order for the ideas to hit critical mass, for enough people to take notice, they need to strike a balance between unambiguously outlining what is being communicated and abstracting various aspects to allow viewers the room for interpretation. Make it too simple and many people will fail to appreciate it. Make it too complex with abstraction and many people will fail to relate to it.

It is no different when you're building a consumer product. Diverge too much from the existing world view of your consumers and your product will be rejected. Align it very close to their current world view and you will have a hard time getting them to notice your product among all the others that exist.

Market Research can be very powerful when it helps construct the world view of your target audience. An example of this being done right in recent times is Netflix when it came out with House of Cards. Market Research helps put the right shape to the box that your target audience lives in.

Once you know the shape of the box, you can work at the edges and try to push them. Working outside the box is over-rated. Outside the box gets you nothing. You need to work at the edges.

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