Product innovation is at the center of many success stories. Every product that exists now, or that existed before, was once an innovation. The most notable innovative products of late have been mostly technological.
The term ‘disruptive innovation’ is used quite a lot these days. It refers to innovations whose impact sets a trajectory for the future. Such an example is Microsoft when they made their first PC.
That was a disruptive innovation back then, and rightfully so. It changed the dynamic of what was and what could be. Now, look at how the personal computer has developed!
Although innovations don’t have to be ‘disruptive’ for them to be relevant, they still have to be useful. They should offer value. Otherwise, why innovate at all if there’s no efficiency, productivity, or time gains? So, when approaching product innovation, it’s good to start with the goal of creating useful products. However, that’s easier said than done.
Therefore, you may have to request the services of a consultant to assist you in that regard. If you need professional assistance, start by getting in touch with reliable service providers like Normative, an innovation consulting company, which can help you bring your ideas to life from planning to production and beyond.
That said, here’s a short guide on how to create successful and innovative products:
1. Ideation and Concept
Ideation is the process of creating and brainstorming ideas. Your first ideas are more than likely going to be incomplete because you’ll still be trying to conceptualize a product that’ll meet a customer’s need or solve a customer’s problem.
This is the time when you pitch your idea to friends and test whether it resonates with others. You’ll also have to take a fair amount of notes down at this stage. This may take time, but it’s normal. Also, the more complex the idea, the more time it’ll likely take to come up with a working concept.
Here are some additional things to consider at this stage for innovative products:
Define who your customer is, what their needs are, and their preferences. You need to define your customer to know how your minimum viable product (MVP) offering should function for it to grab your customer’s attention.
You can’t simply make a product and hope that an undefined or non-existent customer will buy your product. Define the needs of a model customer, then make a product to meet their needs.
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis
This will provide useful information on how you can differentiate your product from competitors. For example, if you can build a product that capitalizes on your competitors’ weaknesses, it can be your products’ strength.
That strength can be used as your main selling point. If done right, you can effectively differentiate your product from the rest of the market. This also applies if you want to carve out a niche for your product.
Conducting market research ensures that you make or build a product that people will pay for. Some ideas may seem brilliant at first, and perhaps they are. But if no one will pay for the product, it may not be worth the effort of producing it. That’s why you need to validate your ideas before acting on them. People will pay for the product that offers them some value. The essence of market research, then, is quantifying product demand.
There’s usually plenty of open-source data one can use to conduct research, especially over the internet. Some organizations and government institutions publish useful statistics on their website that anybody can access at their discretion.
Also, you can tailor your market research initiative through questionnaires and surveys to understand your target market better. Your research conclusions don’t have to be perfect, but it should be clear and plausible.
3. Business Plan
A business plan mainly deals with the economic aspects of a product launch. A draft may suffice at this stage since actual testing and development may not have begun. It should roughly show the various economic variables involved such as the financial, marketing, production, and sales aspects of a product launch.
The financials are likely going to be estimates. However, the non-financial aspects can be refined to a greater extent because, for example, once you’ve conducted your market research, you can draft a sound marketing strategy just as well. But drafting a marketing budget may not be as straightforward. The point is, a business plan doesn’t need to have all the answers at this stage. But it can guide the entire process.
After completing the first three steps, you now need to develop a prototype for testing and validation. A prototype is also referred to as a beta version of the final product. A good prototype should closely resemble the final product in terms of functionality. However, try to make it as aesthetically appealing as possible even if you haven’t involved designers in this process yet.
It’s normal to have over one prototype. Some products that exist today came because of testing dozens of prototypes. People test them to find out whether their product works as expected. If not, they adjust accordingly. This stage is important because if your prototype fails, you can improve it.
Once you’ve built a prototype, test it. It’s also a good idea to let other people test it to see if it works properly.
Once a satisfactory prototype is in place, you need to establish who your production partners are. You need to determine the materials needed and who your material suppliers are going to be. In a nutshell, this is the stage where you establish supply chain partners in the production of your product.
Also, if you’re looking for investors, you need to show them a working prototype. Investors want to be assured that they’re pouring their money into a product that’ll sell. So, you have to convince them with a working prototype. This is also where your marketing strategy should shine.
This is the phase where you calculate all the costs required to produce and market your product such as setup costs, material costs, storage costs, shipping costs, and so on. You need to know the costs of production to come up with the right price (or pricing strategy) for it.
The price you charge for a product should cover the costs of producing it. Even so, you want to price your product right because without the customer, there’s no product to sell. Remember, the wrong price for a wonderful product can chase a good customer away.
Innovation often involves a lot of creativity and problem-solving. You may even have to create a solution to a non-existent problem. But innovation continues to be an important part of every society. The pursuit of efficiency is real.
That’s great because it’s a good ground on which innovation can thrive. Use the aforementioned points as a short guide to creating innovative products successfully.
Patience Brown is a product development analyst with fifteen years of industry experience in this field. She has been an analyst for various top companies. She enjoys learning about how things work and sharing her insights through blogs online. Patience enjoys spending time with the family, reading sci-fi and crime novels, and traveling in her spare time.