Product Categories: Vitamins, Painkillers and Viagra


Vitamins are products that provide a customer peace of mind. You get no immediate results from taking a vitamin. The benefits (if any) are sometime in the future. Insurance is a vitamin product. Home security systems are a vitamin product. When selling vitamin products, timing is everything. Most home security systems are sold when the customer moves, or when a neighbour’s house is burglarized. Vitamins tend to be sold when the customer is experiencing lots of FUD.

Painkillers are products that remove a customer’s pain. If the benefit of removing the pain is higher than the opportunity cost of the painkiller, customers will buy the painkiller. To sell a painkiller, you have to find the customers with the pain you can solve, and can afford the painkiller. It is much easier to sell a painkiller than a vitamin.

At ActiveState we provided branded Perl distributions. We had a number of early customers who needed Y2K compliance for their software systems that included Perl. Our distributions and Y2K tests were a cheap way for them to continue using Perl. The product was a painkiller initially as the customers needed to comply. Later on the product became a vitamin, a nice thing to have to ensure their systems worked fine.

At Sxip Identity our enterprise identity products tended to be vitamins. Nice to have products, but not essential. Most of our sales happened when the customer had a pain. We had numerous discussions about were the customer pains where so that we could build painkillers. But as I reflected on the identity industry I realized that it had never had the profits of other IT industries. Identity products sold when they were painkillers, but customers were not excited to buy the products. I realized there was another product category. One that got customers excited.

Viagra is a product that allows customers do something they could not do before. Customers get excited about Viagra products! Viagra products change behaviour. Cost is not as critical in Viagra products. People can’t get enough of Viagra products. I would like my next venture to be around a Viagra product. The energy in a Viagra company is much more upbeat.

18 responses to “Product Categories: Vitamins, Painkillers and Viagra”

  1. Dick Hardt

    vitamins, painkillers or Viagra. What does your company sell? http://dickhardt.org/2010/01/vitamins-painkillers-and-viagra/

  2. Robin Hopper

    Great post from @dickhardt (I still giggle when I type that): Vitamins, painkillers or viagara…what do you sell? http://bit.ly/b72X6H

  3. quella

    Product Categories: Vitamins, Painkillers and Viagra – Dick Hardt …: Products can be looked at falling into thre… http://bit.ly/coDp3a

  4. Vitamin News

    Product Categories: Vitamins, Painkillers and Viagra – Dick Hardt … http://bit.ly/9qtcyq

  5. Shinichi Tomita

    GoogleもYahooもventure違うし、Viagraとまではいえんような。identity の世界から一歩引くのかな http://bit.ly/acYD79

  6. jenny thomas

    Product Categories: Vitamins, Painkillers and Viagra – Dick Hardt …: Products can be looked at falling into thre… http://bit.ly/coDp3a

  7. machu

    RT @stomita: GoogleもYahooもventure違うし、Viagraとまではいえんような。identity の世界から一歩引くのかな http://bit.ly/acYD79

  8. tzmtk_favs

    machu: RT @stomita: GoogleもYahooもventure違うし、Viagraとまではいえんような。identity の世界から一歩引くのかな http://bit.ly/acYD79 http://ff.im/-f3o6G

  9. Hipolito Guilboard

    Thought provoking article as always. I myself find it hard writing articles for my blog but you do a superb job here.

  10. ktraas

    RT @dickhardt: Product Categories: Vitamins, Painkillers and Viagra http://bit.ly/aMEeIp

  11. Johnny Cope

    RT @dickhardt: Product Categories: Vitamins, Painkillers and Viagra http://bit.ly/aMEeIp

  12. Richard Brady

    Ok, time for another post Dick! What are you up to these days?

  13. keith bishop

    RT @dickhardt: Product Categories: Vitamins, Painkillers and Viagra http://bit.ly/aMEeIp

  14. bishi3000

    RT @dickhardt: Product Categories: Vitamins, Painkillers and Viagra http://bit.ly/aMEeIp

  15. Dick Hardt

    new post today! :)

  16. cyau25

    RT @dickhardt: Product Categories: Vitamins, Painkillers and Viagra http://bit.ly/aMEeIp

  17. Dick Hardt

    @cjwake @sachinrekhi see http://t.co/oeSWMdg for vitamins, painkillers & Viagra

  18. Eric Chunn

    RT @dickhardt: Product Categories: Vitamins, Painkillers and Viagra http://t.co/oY3nzbEZ