When It Comes To Haunted Hair Extensions, The Experience Is The Product

Yesterday, we recapped the Japanese horror movie Exte: Hair Extensionsin 10 Screencaps Or Less™.

Today, we’re going to use that recap as a springboard into a discussion on the importance of weaving a compelling product experience.


When it comes to Haunted Hair Extensions, even a deviant like Yamazaki
understands the experience is the product

Let’s Be Frank

Exte is the story of deranged hair fetishist who steals a cursed corpse sprouting copious amounts of hair, which he harvests and sells to local hair salons for hair extensions. These hair extensions are actually cursed–and seeking revenge.

Sound goofy? It is. Goofy. Disturbing. Satirical. But Exte is much more than the sum of its parts.

Enter: Mami

See, Exte is also the story of Yuko, an up-and-coming hair stylist, trying to balance her career with caring for her niece Mami. And it’s this relationship, and Miku Sato’s heart-breaking portrayal of Mami, that makes this movie more than just another Ringu or Grudge clone.

I tuned into the family drama, but other folks see Exte as a story about the struggle for control, or the ultimate cost of beauty, or a testament to unrestrained feminine power.

Any way you cut it, there’s real heart at the center of this movie about haunted hair–and that surprised me, in a very genuine and unexpected and delightful way.

Enter: Professor Kano

In the 1980s, Professor Noriaki Kano developed a model that can help us prioritize product requirements in relation to customer satisfaction. Scott Sehlhorst breaks it down pretty well, but I prefer how marketada puts it:

  • Fundamental Features: Think: brakes on a car. You aren’t going to win a customer with any of these features, but you’ll almost certainly lose them without.
  • Linear Features: Think: gas mileage for a family car. Talk to customers about your product, and these are the features you are likely to hear about.
  • Exciter Features: These are the features that your customers weren’t expecting–but love. These are the features that help you to create brand loyal customers.

Applying Kano To Exte

Let’s break down Exte according to the descriptors above:

  • Fundamental Features: This is J-Horror, so a scary woman with long black hair is required. Check!
  • Linear Features: The scary ghost woman must kill the cursed in increasingly bizarre ways. Check!
  • Exciter Features: The family dynamic among Yuko, Mami, and Mami’s abusive mother. Hair as a weapon. And the creepy, flag-wearing, hair fetishist who propels the plot.

The experience of watching this movie–of being challenged and surprised by what could have just been stock characters plugged into a well-worn formula–helps create a final product that I’ve been talking about for several days now, much to the chagrin of my friends and family who much prefer Lost to Sion Sono.

How Often Does Your Product Surprise & Delight?

Exciter Features are not easy to create. If they were, we’d talk about more than the ol’ iPod scroll wheel and haunted hair extensions.

But think about this:

If a low-budget horror movie about cursed hair can transcend itself–can make you feel for a family that isn’t really real–is there really any excuse for failing to surprise and delight the customers we ostensibly know so well? Hair-raising, I know.

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Bonus Content

Here’s a non-hair example of “the experience as product” wherein Peter Merholz suggests we focus on the experiences we want to create, first, then build the products that get us there:

7 thoughts on “When It Comes To Haunted Hair Extensions, The Experience Is The Product”

  1. Nicely done.

    Too many products leave customers cold – mildly irritating, adequate, sufficient – rarely amazing.

    There is the philosophy of “just good enough” pervading both the hardware and software spaces, but heightened customer loyalty is only possible via delight, and delight is only possible via positively surprising experiences, not checklists of features.

  2. Trevor –

    I think you’re right: Even worse than an obviously bad product is one that seems to have potential, but lets you down–or is so middling that it doesn’t register an impression at all.

    – Chris

  3. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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