Yesterday, I wrote about the water company Liquid Death and stages of product markets and how in more markets, style/identity are the main differentiators. I did a little research to see what already existing frameworks might apply to this thinking and came across the Design hierarchy of needs coined by William Lidwell which is based on the Maslow hierarchy of needs. In the rest of the essay, I’ll talk about how Lidwell's framework describes the stages I mentioned previously.
Stage 1: A solution to the core problem is the functionality stage
If a majority of a market has yet created the basic functionality to solve the problem that’s where the focus is.
Stage 2: Better, faster, cheaper is the reliability and usability stages
Once basic functionality is pretty much solved in a market then solutions will try to be more usable and more reliable.
Stage 3: Do it with style is the creativity stage
In Maslow's hierarchy framework, this is also the self-actualization stage. Once solutions in a market are sufficiently functional, reliable, and usable then consumers will choose the product that expresses their creativity, identity, and style.
If this framework plays out it might also present what the future of a market might hold. If your current industry is solving basic functionality then usability/reliability will become the next differentiator and if usability/reliability are currently what the market focuses on the style/creativity/identity is up next.