Common mistakes with new product development

This morning I read this great article from Dean Ramler on StartupSmart about new product design. I often hear from inventors who believe they have the best new product in the world… but they haven’t done the market research to back up that belief. Just because it’s the best doesn’t mean you’ll be a millionaire. As I’ve often said before, if no-one buys it, it doesn’t really matter how good it is!

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There are two common mistakes which frequently occur when designing a new product:

  1. Designing products that nobody wants.
  2. Designing products that are in demand but with undesirable features.

The first question you must answer is whether or not your product is actually in demand and sought after by customers, because if it is not then it doesn’t matter how brilliantly you design the product. This is a common mistake with new products, where uninformed decisions have been made to launch a new product. In order to succeed you need to make objective decisions and base your decisions on facts. Google has a whole host of free online tools which you can use to assess whether your product has a market or not. With Google Insights for example you can see if people in your market are actively searching for similar items or not. If there is a growing search trend, then you can proceed.

A second common problem in the design stage is designing a product that is in demand, yet with features that are not desired by customers. At Milan Direct for example, in the office we may think it’s a good idea to add a laptop stand to our office chairs, but if our customers don’t perceive this as a value-add that they would pay extra for, than it is a complete waste of time and likely to lead to a product fail.

To overcome this challenge, research and development is critical. A low cost and creative way to undertake this research is to involve your own customer base in the design process from day one. Social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs are all great for this as they allow for two-way communication. For example, if you are designing a new range of products for mothers, set up a blog or Facebook fan page and put the question out to your customer base to see what mums want, and build the product around this feedback. In doing so you will create a product perfectly suited to your market, with a customer base that feel ownership of the product, giving your product the best chance to succeed.

Dean Ramler is the co-founder and CEO of Milan Direct, Australia’s largest online designer furniture store with operations in Australia, UK and Europe. He was named in the top five fastest growing start-ups at the 2011 StartupSmart Awards. www.milandirect.com.au

Read the full article on the StartupSmart website by clicking here.

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