Product Strategy Lessons From Jeff Bezos

Focus on the things that don’t change

Alex Pedicini


Human needs and wants are relatively stable over time. What changes much more frequently are the means by which people seek to satisfy those needs.

While much of product innovation is focused on things that are changing and trending in the world, we can actually build durable product strategies by focusing on the things that are not changing. Those customer desires that are stable and long-lasting, as those efforts will compound and are more likely to stand the test of time.

Jeff Bezo’s sums up this philosophy at the 2012 re:Invent conference:

“You can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. … [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now.

They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ [or] ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible.

And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”

To identify those long-lasting customer desires I recommend using the ‘Jobs to be done’ framework. JTBD is a technique that helps to uncover user motivations and reasoning behind their decision-making. Back to the Amazon example, using JTBD we might uncover that customers are shopping on Amazon for three primary reasons; 1. Low prices 2. Fast delivery and 3. Vast selection.

Knowing this, and believing that these factors will continue to drive customer behavior into the future, Amazon will then orient its resources and strategy to execute against those three pillars. Keep in mind that your customer’s expectations will continually rise over time due to a phenomenon that Daniel Zacarias has dubbed the “Natural Decay of Delight”. You’ll need to continually innovate to maintain that same level of satisfaction as customers become accustomed to changes and improvements.