Whats your product – Dabangg Or Paan Singh Tomar?

As a part of my product management training, I insist on the importance of understanding of behavioral science while managing products. I am both puzzled and irritated when a participant, that is mostly an MBA educated product manager tells me – Viveck, can we skip to the section of how to write a PRD as these principles are only relevant to my boss, VP – Product Management. On the contrary, designers and engineers hardly have ever raised such a moronic concern and are solely focussed on learning. Another, one such idiocy MBA product managers display is the need for ‘certification’. More about certifications in another blog.

Irrespective of your level as a product manager, its important to know about these behavioral principles as only through constant practice can you become adept at applying these with ease when you reach higher levels. Contrary to the mythical belief of our MBA product manager, knowledge doesnt descend down from heaven as soon as you are christened the VP of Product Management. It takes hard work and consitent practice to apply what you have learned

Why is it that I insist on understanding behavioral science especially w.r.t Internet Product Management?

Internet is about dealing with market risks

If you were to rate the risk for an Internet related business – one of the highest risk will be that of the adoption of the market. Internet is rarely about creating a ground breaking technology like the search algorithm of google and is more about marrying the existing technology with that of a market need. Dropbox did not create new technology, neither did twitter or  Facebook – all they did us marry the market to the technology. Here is one of the good diagrams from Steve Blank.

Market is about understanding people

Understanding market is about understanding people. More importantly, their irrationality. Here is an example of product – market reaction

One of my favorite examples is Dabangg, the Salman Khan starrer in the year of 2010.

The movie was one of the biggest box office hits. In a recent flight journey, I was reading an interview of Akshay Kumar who (along with the folks from the industry) was extremely puzzled at the overwhelming success of this otherwise ordinary masala movie. It seemed that there was no takers from distributors for Dabangg post watching the initial promos. Make no mistake – I am not saying Dabangg is a bad movie, I am just equating

the unexpected success that the movie enjoyed with the usually storyline. 



Contrast this with the year 2012, the relase of Paan Singh Tomar. Well scripted, extremely gripping and real.  

The box office nos are noway close to what Dabangg is. Dabangg did a collection of Rs 105 Crores in the first 10 days whereas Paan Singh Tomar did not more than 9 Crores. Isnt this confounding? Werent we taught that a better product, in this case paan singh tomar, should outdo their otherwise ordinary counterparts in the market? Isnt that how rational audience had to react?

The answer is the audience wont and more often they dont. The understanding of this lies in the tenets of behavioral science. I will cover this in my next part of the blog.

Why did I choose Paan Singh Tomar against Dabangg?

  • Similarities of a rural setting
  • Both revolve around an inconoclast – in this case the leading male character
  • The lead character is a rebel in both the movies in their own ways
  • Lastly one of the good movies in the recent past

Whats your take on this?