Product development is a fundamental aspect of any business. It steers growth and keeps a company relevant and competitive in its product market. New product lines also present an opportunity to increase or diversify income streams.
It is, however, a hit or miss venture with many tests and trials. You have to win over consumers and at the same time ensure that production costs are reasonable enough to offer a reasonable profit margin. In addition, your product concept or formulation has to satisfy industry guidelines.
So, how do you overcome all these hurdles as a product developer?
Any product is, in essence, a solution to a problem. Your research phase would thus be an opportunity to interrogate what problems you could solve for consumers in your market. The information you gather will come in handy as you choose designs or pick ingredients for the product line.
Speaking of ingredients, it is advisable that you research and vet them extensively. The average modern consumer is quite discerning and wary of toxic product ingredients. So much so that most would rather pay more for products with healthy formulations than buy cheaper brands with harmful chemicals.
Invest in consumer research as well. Factors such as income, lifestyle, trends, and culture will influence how consumers interact with your product. Understanding such issues before going into the design phase will help you modify your concept to fit the market.
Explore Innovation Options
The tech industry has been on an unrelenting growth spurt in the past few years. As a result, methods of production keep improving as more innovative technology comes into the market. Endeavor to find out what strides may have been made in your industry in the recent past. You may find innovative solutions that could:
- Help you improve product design
- Lower costs of production
- Ease the product development process
Robotics is an example of an innovative solution that is revolutionizing product development and manufacturing. In the electronics industry, for instance, the development of more compact devices has been made possible by industrial robots that can assemble microparts. Using such technology could give you an edge that your competitors may not have caught on to.
Test Your Product Extensively
Preliminary product tests are essential for purposes of:
- Analyzing functionality
- Identifying product flaws
- Understanding the kind of user experience the product delivers
- Analyzing product safety
Ethical focus groups that do not harm any human or animal test subjects are a great way to get feedback during product development. It is tangible data that could help you spot shortcomings that you may not have otherwise noticed.
However, diversity is key in any focus group or testing strategy that you apply. Make an effort to include people of different races, genders, income brackets, among other characteristics. Results from a limited group of reviewers or testing methods are just as bad as not testing the product at all.
Size Up the Competition
No business operates in a vacuum. There will always be competitors in the market looking to also secure a share of the profit pie. It is in your best interest to keep tabs on what they have to offer. It could prove useful in:
- Avoiding product imitation
- Finding a way to get an edge over them through your products
- Understanding market trends
In what may seem like a clandestine twist, there is always something to learn from the competition. It could be something they are doing wrong or new ideas that you may not have come across before. Either way, it could give you a creative spark to help you put out a more superior product. However, be wary of borrowing heavily from other brands in lieu of originality.
Choose a Capable Design Team
Your product concept could be phenomenal but how well it is executed depends on the design team. It is for this reason that you need to choose a skilled team that can deliver high-quality work. Additionally, it would be of great help if they could offer expert advice and guide you on areas where you could improve the design.
Depending on the product you are creating, you may also require sample molds to see what the final product will look like. For this, you will need a mold manufacturer. Aim for one that has experience in your field and can present some examples of their previous work. They would also need to be skilled in your material of choice. If, for instance, you are making plastic products, you will need a plastic mold manufacturer. You could explore more on this at immould.com.
It can be difficult to hear anyone pick out flaws in a product line that you have put immeasurable effort into. Nonetheless, it is always better to hear it from a critic than an unsatisfied customer. It gives you a chance to self-correct before your product hits the market and becomes fair game for an even wider, harsher pool of critics.
Industry experts make for good professional critics as they tend to have encountered similar products and this gives them an informed perspective. You may also benefit from their insider knowledge of matters in your shared area of business.
As a developer, it is upon you to lead the creative process. However, a broad view is essential if you are going to succeed at catering to all the divergent interests involved. Working with a team of other creatives and experts that understand your vision often yields a more exceptional product than running a one-man show.