Why “If You Build It, They Will Come” Is Wrong

And how to actually get users.


Frederik Bussler

3 years ago | 4 min read

“If You Build It, They Will Come” is a saying that was first popularized by the 1989 film “Field of Dreams.” In the film, farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice in his cornfield that tells him to build a baseball field, and if he does, the voice says, “he will come.”

Kinsella is initially skeptical but builds the field anyways. The phrase has since come to represent the idea that if you build something that people want or need, they will flock to it.

However, this sentiment is dead wrong.

The first problem with this mindset is that it’s based on an assumption about human behavior that simply isn’t true. The idea is that if you create something of value, people will be drawn to it. However, this neglects the fact that people are actually drawn to things they already know and like.

The second problem with this attitude is that it’s not enough just to create something of value. You need to make sure people know it exists in order for them to make use of it.

This is because people often don’t take the time or effort necessary to find out about things they don’t know exist. Further, if you’re not an expert in marketing and promotion, you’re not likely going to be able to do this on your own.

In short, “If You Build It, They Will Come” is a false idea because people won’t necessarily flock to what you build unless you make sure they know about it and understand why they would want it.

What Really Happens

In some cases, entrepreneurs launch a product without first identifying if there is a market for it.

Some examples of products that launched without a market are:

  1. Segways
  2. The Juicero
  3. The Edsel

The Segway was invented by Dean Kamen in 2001. Kamen had the idea for the Segway when he saw people struggling to walk up hills with heavy loads in New York City. He believed that if people could use this new device, it would be easier for them to move around and carry these heavy loads.

Photo by Timur Romanov on Unsplash
Photo by Timur Romanov on Unsplash

It’s estimated that Kamen spent $100 million dollars on marketing and selling his invention, but he never got his investment back. This product launched without a market because it didn’t fulfill an unmet need.

The Juicero is yet another example of launching without knowing if there was an unmet need or problem it could solve for society. Juicero Incorporated makes a juice machine which squeezes oranges into juice packets at $700 per machine (not including juice packets).

The company raised $118 million dollars during its 3 years in business, so one would think there must be some sort of market for this product, but evidently not, because it’s now known as one of the biggest flops in Silicon Valley history.

The Edsel car was created in 1957 as an innovative-looking car for the masses. The design of the car had a lot of problems: it was so long that it was difficult to park in a crowded city; the car’s trunk was too small; and there were no air vents near the driver. The Edsel never caught on with customers, and only sold about a thousand cars in its first year.

Photo by Peter Secan on Unsplash
Photo by Peter Secan on Unsplash

Launching a Product the Right Way

Clearly, it’s difficult to know when to launch a new product, or whether to launch at all.

There are many different factors that go into launching a new product, but one of the most important factors is demand. Demand is important because it determines how much you can sell, how much you need to produce, and what type of marketing campaigns you need to put together.

One way that companies can identify demand for their potential products is by using artificial intelligence (AI). This method can be used in order to test a product before launching it.

This can be a huge time saver for businesses who want to make sure they’ll be able to sell the product before investing in marketing campaigns and producing inventory.

In particular, this can be done with demand forecasting, which de-risks the product innovation process, by identifying the levels of demand for a potential product, service, or feature.

AI De-Risks Product Innovation

Demand forecasting is one of the most difficult aspects of business and has been largely overlooked for far too long. The main reason? It’s complex to forecast demand for new products because customers don’t know about them yet. And if customers don’t know about a product or service, they can’t buy it or use it.

That’s why companies from Coca Cola to Suzuki are turning to data engines like Commerce.AI, which streamlines the demand forecasting process and make it more accurate. To get there, AI needs data, and Commerce.AI has a lot of it — over a trillion product data points.

Clearly, AI is delivering industry results, seen by case studies with brands across skincare to consumer electronics to dog food, and everything in-between.


Created by

Frederik Bussler







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