I’ve always heard that customers hate change. For some product or service brands, a line extension or innovative new product launch results in angry customers that blow up customer service and social media channels. On the other hand, brands like Apple draw lines for a city block at midnight when they launch new devices. Other savvy brands deliver “new and improved”  products or version 2.0 and customers rejoice.

After reviewing some of the brands that create excitement for their product or service, I identified one key attribute: familiarity.

So do customers hate change or love familiarity? The answer may lie somewhere in the middle but definitely tilted more towards loving familiarity. Most successful new product launches don’t make claims like “the first ever”, “unlike anything else” or “the first of its kind.” Instead, they typically provide a better way to solve an existing, basic need.

Take the first iPhone for example. On the surface, it may seem to contradict my point. However, when the first iPhone launched in 2007, consumers were already using mobile phones, iPods, icon-based operation systems on computers and BlackBerry devices. The iPhone was better than all previous devices at doing what consumers were already doing. Then the smartphone category was born.

New products that say “the next…” or “kinda like…” in a believable way seem to do well.

Are we bombarded with so many marketing messages that our brain seeks known or familiar attributes to process and prioritize all this new information?

Change is coming whether we want it or not, so brands need to constantly improve their innovative products and services to remain relevant and competitive in a competitive market. However, instead of trying to stand out as different, unique or newer; brands should focus on solving a basic need better.