• Tam Walsh

The Big Q - Product or Service?

I attended a very insightful seminar last week hosted by Virgin for small business owners. One speaker at the seminar had a great impact on me, Nick Coleman - Founder of Snaffling Pig and innovator of the humble pork scratching.

As much as wig making and scratching pork have very little to do with each other, the ideas behind the business or any business for that matter, are so very transferrable.

Much of the innovation behind the Snaffling Pig is down to putting flavour into the product which no one had done before - and of course, branding. Nick Cole chose a huge market - Food and Beverage, focusing himself on a niche within the industry - pork scratchings. He has succeeded in completely elevating a product that consumers never even knew they wanted or needed. His sales figures have proven otherwise.

He discussed his early days and finding a supplier who could provide him with his pork scratchings. He told us of one of the first conversations he had with the supplier and posed the question of what could they do together to make them different.

His supplier answered quite honestly that flavouring had never been done before.

Bingo. And so it was.

A really great question that came up from someone in the audience was;

"So how was it that if this supplier manufactured great quantities of scratchings to other companies, that he had never suggested it to anyone else?"

The answer was quite simply, because no one had ever asked him.

Which brings me swervingly into my big Q.

And my A to the Q.

For any brand, take again for example, The Snaffling Pig who was in need of a supplier to bring his idea or concept to life, there are two ways of deploying the working relationship.


- Finding a supplier

- Asking them if they can provide the product and within the timeline

- Relaying quantities needed

- Negotiating on price and terms, resulting in either an agreement or disagreement in all


or, as in Nicks case;


- Finding a supplier who he feels has a good quality product and who could be the right fit

- Encouraging a collaboration with the supplier, asking questions and utilising the suppliers

extensive knowledge of the product he has been providing to see how he can help add

more value

- In doing this, forms more of an understanding of the supplier he is looking to join forces

with and a working relationship starts to form from the outset

- Relaying quantities needed in his required timeline. As a direct result of the opened

conversation, the supplier can try to find ways of fulfilling the brands needs even if his

schedule is tight, as he feels he is part of the brands journey already and wants in

- Price and terms are negotiated based on the basis that the experience is not just a

transaction but a value added collaboration for both parties

- And they all live happily even after

Number 1 is providing a product.

Number 2 is providing a service.

And so we come full circle to the matter at hand.

The mannequin wig making industry - Product or Service?

Well, in my opinion, it should be both.

In my 4 tender years of having my studio, I have been referred to and negotiated with by customers and even industry peers, as a product supplier and even, to my horror, a manufacturer.

These kinds of conversations don't usually reach their full potential and no-one gains real value.

Even on the tender subject of price.

A product is a product, it has a price tag (generally) and what you see is what you get. Whether its a luxury or budget product.

With a service, there is also a price tag. The difference is though, that by opening up a collaboration and allowing the supplier to explain the many different variations within his product range, the brand gets so much more value which he might otherwise miss out on.

When the supplier gains an understanding of the brands pain points, this is where the real magic of service happens.

A wig is not just a wig. There are so many different ways to execute. This should be platformed, celebrated and utilised.

The only way to do this is allow the service to be served.

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