Introduction to the Conceptual Engineering Method
The purpose of a first-choice strategy is to achieve the perception that a superior subjective value is being proposed. This superiority needs to be proven through the differentiation of the value propositions and confirmed through the satisfaction of the needs of the client.
The first-choice strategy is a segmented approach to the market because it requires finding the segments where the first choice is feasible. In marketing, it is rare to find products or services that have a universal first choice position.
Conceptual Engineering to Manage Adaptive Systems
Conceptual Engineering was developed to manage the unified field of social, institutional and business functions. It allows transforming the conceptual structures of these environments into roles, processes, objects and actions that allow managing maximal strategies to grow and minimum strategies to ensure results.
The example of the structure of marketing strategies will provide the guiding idea of what needs to be done in a conceptual engineering process.
The method goes from the essential concepts, defined by their ontogenetic maps, to the operational concepts and the definition of roles, processes and objects.
The Basics of Unicist Conceptual Engineering
The Discovery of Concepts
The discovery of the essential conceptual structure of adaptive systems and environments requires using the unicist research methodology.
The first stage implies using the “unicist ontological reverse engineering method” to discover the root causes of the operational aspects of functions to define the underlying essential concepts.
The Rediscovery of Concepts
The use of essential concepts that have been discovered requires rediscovering them. This rediscovery process requires using conceptual benchmarking, which allows learning from previous experiences.
The discovery of universal or specific metaphors helps to apprehend the concepts without rationalizing them. This process allows storing the knowledge of essential concepts in the long-term memory.
The Use of Conceptual Engineering
The management of complex adaptive systems requires the use of concepts that have been discovered or rediscovered. This requires the use of conceptual engineering that ends when the destructive pilot tests have been completed.
The conceptual engineering process is simplified using unicist expert systems that allow people, who have experience in managing specific functions, to deal with the root causes of adaptive environments without needing to manage the underlying concepts.
This requires using a strict testing system, which begins by developing “Japanese park” experiences and ends with the destructive and non-destructive testing processes of the solutions defined.
A Synthetic Example:
First Choice Marketing applied to Personal IT Hardware
Introduction to First Choice Marketing
First choice marketing is one of the models that is used in root cause marketing. Root cause marketing adopts multiple models according to the characteristics of the products/services, markets and environments. All models in root cause marketing are driven by catalysts and sustained by marketing objects. The model that follows is the one that corresponds to rational buying processes.
First Choice Marketing applied to Personal IT Hardware
Two things need to be managed to develop marketing actions that drive products or services to be perceived as the first choice in the buying decision process:
- Human actions are driven by the concepts people have. This implies that the concept an individual has when a value proposition is made, defines the possibility of a product to be included in the buying decision process. That is why the conceptual segmentation defines the environment where a value proposition is meaningful.
- Buying decisions always include alternatives. When there seem to be no alternative proposals, not buying is the unavoidable alternative. When these alternatives are compared, the potential buyer chooses one among the rest, which is the first choice in the decision process. If the process can be fulfilled, the buying action is completed.
But if objections that cannot be overcome appear, the potential buyer chooses another alternative, leaving aside the one s/he had chosen. This new alternative is then the first choice for the buyer and this process continues until the buying action concludes or is aborted.
This means that Unicist Root Cause Marketing requires knowing and managing the concepts that underlie the products/services that are being marketed, knowing the conceptual segmentation of buyers and being able to develop a first choice strategy in marketing that allows positioning the products in a way that they are the first choice of some segment.
The First Choice Strategy
The purpose of a first choice strategy is to achieve the perception that a superior subjective value is being proposed. This superiority needs to be proven through the differentiation of the value propositions and confirmed through the satisfaction of the needs of the client.
The first choice strategy is a segmented approach to the market because it requires finding the segments where the first choice is feasible. In marketing, it is rare to find products or services that have a universal first choice position. It requires knowing the functionality of the products or services and being aware of the needs that can be satisfied in each segment. The differentiation can be conceptual, functional or operational.
Transforming essential concepts into systemic functions
Transform essential concepts into systemic functions, which have closed boundaries. It requires transforming the fundamentals of the essential concepts into specific fundamentals. The validation of this step is based on a logical confirmation using the complementation and supplementation laws.
|Essential Fundamentals|| Specific Fundamentals |
(Personal IT Hardware)
|1) Idea of the concept of unique use value||1) Idea of the concept of superior performance|
|A) Leading referential value||A) Leading technology|
|B) Opportunity value||B) Social status|
|C) Unique use value||C) Superior performance|
|2) Idea of the concept of differentiated attributes||2) Idea of the concept of superior technology & aesthetics|
|3) Operational differentiation||3) Superior functional aesthetics|
|4) Price – value differentiation||4) Superior value – superior price|
|5) Differentiated attributes||5) Superior technology & aesthetics|
|6) Idea of the concept of structural needs satisfaction||6) Idea of the concept of fully reliable solutions|
|7) Latent needs satisfaction||7) New stage solutions|
|8) Urgent needs satisfaction||8) New features|
|9) Structural needs satisfaction||9) Fully reliable solutions|
Defining Maximal and Minimum Strategies
This step implies the transformation of the systemic functions into maximal and minimum strategies that allow defining these two differentiated roles. It is necessary that each of the fundamentals of the concept included in the function be transformed into actions that allow their inclusion in the alternative strategies that need to be defined. The nature of the actions defines their functionality in the alternative operational strategies. The validation of this step is based on the use of conceptual benchmarking.
The purpose of the maximal strategy is to be perceived as having “Differentiated Attributes”, which is given by the unicist superior technology & aesthetics and is driven by:
- Superior Functional Aesthetics (Operational Differentiation): Superior Design – Superior Usability – Superior Functionality
- Superior Value – Superior Price (Price – Value Differentiation): Subjective Value – Brand Value – Segmented Affordability
The purpose of the minimum strategy is to be perceived as able to satisfy structural needs, which is given by the use of fully reliable solutions, and is driven by:
- (Latent Needs Satisfaction): Operational Innovation – Operational Simplification – New Possibilities
- New Features (Urgent Needs Satisfaction): Expanding Functional Boundaries – New Segmented Features – Increasing Use Value
Defining Segmented Actions
This step implies transforming maximal and minimum strategies into segmented processes, objects, actions and DDAs (double dialectical actions). Each of the segmented strategies that are used are defined by the actions that are implemented, which depend on what is necessary to be achieved and the actions that occur in the environment. The validation of this step is based on the use of destructive tests.
3A) Definition of the segmented actions
This segment is driven by the value promise that
is implicit in the brand attributes of the provider. This level is based on the
satisfaction of structural and latent needs. It requires having a product-oriented
It is focused on new stage solutions (latent needs satisfaction), which are defined by: operational innovation – operational simplification – new possibilities.
This segment is based on the satisfaction of urgent needs, which generates a perception of benefits that allows awakening interests based on the usability of the products or services. It is necessary to transform the functional concepts of products into operational concepts that allow managing their usability. (…)
It is focused on the new features (urgent needs satisfaction) which are defined by: expanding functional boundaries – new segmented features – increasing use value.
This segment is based on the differentiated attributes of the products
or services and their price-value relationship. It is a fully maximal strategy
dependent level, which means that there is a notorious differentiated added
value to the segments or market. (…)
It is focused on the superior value – superior price positioning (price – value differentiation), which is defined by: subjective value – brand value – segmented affordability.
This segment is based on the differentiated attributes of the organization and of the products or services that are materialized in a notorious operational differentiation of the value propositions. (…)
It is focused on the superior functional aesthetics (operational differentiation), which is defined by: superior design – superior usability – superior functionality.
3B) Design the commercial processes and objects
Description of the necessary objects
Design the synchronicity of the segmented commercial processes and of the objects to be used.
- Develop external catalysts, that are within the restricted context of the business, to accelerate the buying processes – based on the characteristics of the segment.
- Develop internal catalysts, that are part of the business processes, to ensure the achievement of the minimum strategy – based on the characteristics of the segment.
- Develop the specific value proposition – based on the characteristics of the segment.
- Development of ambiguous semiotic objects that guide the participants in the understanding of the value proposition – based on the characteristics of the segment.
- Development of semantic objects that simplify the access to a specific field of knowledge – based on the characteristics of the segment.
- Development of commercial objects that establish an empathic complementation with the participants – based on the characteristics of the segment.
The Building of Segmented Marketing Objects
The building of Marketing Objects is a creative process that includes significant artistic aspects to ensure the necessary ambiguity of the communication to ensure the influence on the potential buyers.
The conceptual engineering processes provide the necessary information to design the marketing objects that drive the marketing process. This process includes the design of commercial, semantic, semiotic and branding objects.
The design of these objects is based on the conceptual engineering processes and includes the functional aesthetics of the value proposition and the bond established by the users of the products.
- Unicist commercial objects are implemented to install ideas in the mind of the potential customers. This implies that they are designed to sustain the marketing process of products and services that are being proposed.
- Semantic objects are used to install meaningful knowledge in the market. They are necessary to sustain differentiated or innovative value propositions.
- Semiotic objects are installed to guide and influence buying processes. Double dialectical actions (DDAs) are a sort of semiotic objects that allow driving and catalyzing buying processes.
- The purpose of a branding object is to foster an unidentified buying intention (goodwill) in the mind of the potential buyer.
The Design of Segmented Catalyzing Objects to Precede the Use of Marketing Objects
The building of catalysts is a special aspect where the use of ambiguous communication is a basic condition. Catalysts need to be introduced using unicist binary actions (UBAs). The straightforward communication of a catalyst is dysfunctional because it is perceived as an “invasion”.
There are two different catalyzing objects to be built:
- External catalysts, UBAs Type 1: They are based on the new stage technologies integrated with the superior performance that is included in the concept of the product.
- Internal catalysts, UBAs Type 4: They are based on making the superior value of the products and the new features of the products noticeable.
The use of catalyzing objects has to precede the use of marketing objects in order to establish the necessary expansive context.
The use of conceptual engineering requires avoiding fallacies to ensure results. This requires developing 4 different levels of testing: testing the idea, testing the maximal strategy, testing the minimum strategy and developing the final pilot test. With the exception of the “Japanese Park” all the pilot tests are based on the use of unicist destructive tests.
The Unicist Conceptual Engineering Method allows building the marketing processes using the ontogenetic map of the type of products/services and the type of markets.
The processes define what needs to be done and not what can be done. What needs to be done depends on having confirmed what is possible to be achieved.
This information needs to be considered to define the roles that participate in the marketing processes. It provides the structure of the actions and their synchronicity to ensure the achievement of results.
A marketing strategy should not be implemented if the actions that can be done do not fulfill the definition of what needs to be done.
The use of this method ensures the management of complex adaptive systems and environments by managing the concepts and fundamentals that define the root causes of their functionality.
Note: The R&D work of this technology/methodology was led by Peter Belohlavek at The Unicist Research Institute.
The Unicist Research Institute