Make things that people love, not just like!
It’s better to build something that a small number of users love than a large number of users like.
I felt compelled to express my point of view on this topic.
I think that the right question is:
Why people fall in love with products? Especially with products that never existed before.
My guess is that people are mostly driven by 2 forces in purchasing products:
1. Utility, i.e. the satisfaction of an unsatisfied need (all along the Maslow’s pyramide, from very basic needs to more ephemeral and emotional-related needs). This sounds quite obvious, but it is often overlooked by products developers and marketers.
2. Recognition, i.e establishing a social status and thus social acceptance. This is not true only for luxury products, but also for less expensive products. Think of kids who beg their parents to buy a new toy just because fellow kids own that toy.
Very often, these two element are mixed together in a unique (and possibly effective) blend. I suspect that utility is more pertaining to quality of the product, while recognition is more related to branding. Of course, I also see an interdependence between the twos, such as the fact that brand reputation can be built (but not exclusively) on product’s quality, and that utility might be induced by branding: after all social recognition is a need that people want to be satisfied.
Creating a product is not just engineering or design, it is also a social act. Products are for people and product makers need to first understand people before even trying to look into the technology needed to build the product. However, people will never tell you what product they want. They will instead clearly show you where they struggle in getting their needs satisfied, including social recognition.