Product Development How to Create a Product That Customers Really Need

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Product development is arguably the biggest challenge for an entrepreneur. With so much competition in the market, it’s no secret that coming up with the next big offering for your business can be a very daunting task. But, no matter what field your company is in, making your vision come to life can be a lot easier when you follow a specific methodology.

Whether you’re introducing a new product or improving an old one, what your brand is offering must always give your audience some value. Instead of taking the time to know the needs of their clients, many businesses tend to assume and end up introducing something unusable. 

Skipping parts in the development process and not got getting the necessary insight won’t only lead to a product’s failure; it could also mean massive losses for your company.  

If you like reading success stories of entrepreneurs for motivation, one common thing you’ll find is that their journey towards success was never a straight line. While these stories do not offer concrete steps, you can gain a lot of insight by studying how they came up and sold their products.

Even though product development differs from industry to industry, bringing your idea to life can be done in a few simple steps. To get you started, the guide below will teach you how to develop a product that customers actually need. 

How to Create a Product That Customers Really Need

Brainstorming

Brainstorming for ideas is the longest part of product development. Similar to how artists make songs or paintings, entrepreneurs must also search for the right sources of inspiration. Even though you aspire to create something new, you should know that you could gain a lot of ideas by looking at existing items. 

To make the ideation process easier, many entrepreneurs make use of the SCAMPER method to innovate their products and services. 

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SCAMPER:

(S) Substitute: 

Replacing a particular concept of your product with an alternative to improve its performance or look

Examples:
  • Reshaping juice boxes for improved grip
  • Replacing linen shirts with cotton for better comfort

(C) Combine:

Combining two or more existing products or ideas and integrating them into one efficient tool

Examples:
  • Packing scissors, blades, and other handy tools into a Swiss Army Knife
  • Combining a phone case and power bank to make a rechargeable smartphone case

(A) Adapt:

Getting an existing product and re-adjusting it to solve another problem

Examples:
  • Offering your meals in different sizes to suit different appetites
  • Adding wheels to luggage to improve mobility 

(M) Modify:

Identifying the strongest component of a product and magnifying it 

Examples
  • Selling a sugar-free option of your most popular drink 
  • Strengthening the color scheme of your product to invoke a particular emotion

(P) Put to another use: 

Similar to adapt, this concept deals with getting an existing material and repurposing it to make a different product.

Examples:
  • Using old pet bottles to create eco-bricks 
  • Recycling waste to create shoes

(E) Eliminate:

Removing some aspects of your product that may be hindering its performance

Examples:
  • Removing unnecessary components in a gadget for a slim and lightweight build
  • Partnering with another supplier to lower manufacturing costs

(R) Rearrange: 

Reversing the process of how the product has been made

Examples:
  • Reverse engineering a backpack to know how you can make it more comfortable
  • Reverse engineering a car to create a new model with better speed and power output

Now that you know the SCAMPER method, taking your business to new heights can be a lot easier. However, you should always remember that building valuable products would take a lot of time. Just be patient and determined, and you’ll eventually arrive at your eureka moment. 

SCAMPER Infographic

Here is a SCAMPER infographic originally from MindTools.com. This will summarize the above points.

#1. Research and Planning

It’s natural to feel excited once you’ve found your million-dollar idea. But, before you start putting money down, you’ll need to do research and discuss your plans with the right people. This will help you validate your idea for a product and figure out its potential.

Other than conducting competitor and market analysis, talking about it with your family members, fellow entrepreneurs, or mentor will ensure that the product you’re creating will be a product worth buying. As you collect feedback from various sources, you should also be wary of biases to gain substantial feedback.

After validating, the next step to take is to build a concrete idea of what it will look like. What components do you need? What are the services you’ll require? Something as simple as a hand-drawn sketch will make it easier for you to bring your concepts to life.  

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Other than taking note of manufacturing elements, you’ll also need to plan with your overall branding, sales tactics, and advertising approach. Luckily, there are many affordable marketing strategies your company can use today. In case it isn’t one of your business’ strong suits, acquiring the services of a marketing agency can help you drive your company forward.

Here’s how SMS marketing can do wonders for your brand. 

#2. Prototyping and testing

The prototyping stage allows you to hone your product to its fullest potential. In the process of experimenting, you’ll end up creating different models of your products; this is also the stage where your decision-making skills and resourcefulness will be put to the test.

Prototyping differs significantly depending on the kind of product you’re making. Some products such as food can be easily tested and tweaked, but for products such as clothes, it’s essential to work with a third party.  Unless you have training in fashion, acquiring the opinion of a seamstress or a designer is a must.

After developing a prototype, you should immediately have some samples tested before you officially put them up for sale. You may have overlooked certain defects on your product, and acquiring the feedback of your testers can save you a ton of money.  

To optimize the prototyping process of your team, consider investing in productivity tools, as well.  

#3. Material Sourcing

Once you’ve finally developed a prototype that you’re satisfied with, it’s time to build your supply chain. To put it simply, the sourcing stage requires you to look for the right fabricators and suppliers. While this phase mainly emphasizes manufacturing-related endeavors, it’s also important to consider other necessities such as shipping and storage. 

In the process of looking for partners, it’s incredibly important to keep an open mind. While it may be ideal to look for a supplier that you know fairly well, limiting your options to your current network can hinder your growth and the opportunities you get. 

Diversifying your network is great for your business in the long run. Having multiple suppliers and manufacturers won’t only provide more financial flexibility, it can also serve as a backup option in case a partnership turns sour. 

#4. Costing

After finishing the four previous stages, you should now have a clearer idea of your production costs. By adding up all the information you’ve gathered on testing and sourcing, you can finally determine a standard retail price for your product.

The first step to costing is to create a spreadsheet that includes your expenses. Aside from your raw materials and manufacturing costs, it’s incredibly important to factor in shipping fees and other miscellaneous expenses. If you plan to deliver your products overseas, these expenses can significantly impact what your costs will be. 

Be a Brand that People will Need

The market sees changes every year and after every season, but the competition among brands remains fierce. Make your brand a necessity by creating that product that everyone needs.

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Crafted together with..

Lou Zandrian Lobrin is Marketing & Sustainability Manager of Esquire Financing, a lending-firm offering non-collateral business loans to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). He enjoys traveling, cultural immersion, and meeting new people outside work.

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