The Growing Pains of Developing a Consumer Product
Last time we talked about prototyping your idea, places where you can find useful resources and getting the samples ready for crowdfunding. Now, let’s figure out what you can do for your product to compete and survive the market itself. The great delusion all inventors have is to sell my product to every fifth consumer. This almost never works, but might be a good start!
Do you know your market category?
While ideating your product you are figuring out the user experience, target groups, and overall consumer profile which means your product will be tailored to a specific consumer group and hopefully expand later on. Do not fear niche categories, many times these are categories with the highest margins and great user feedback. But let’s assume your market will start in one country (for example US) and it is a general market everyday product. You have competition, but you will already have great feedback to explore and improve on.
Coming from a market such as American, German, Australian, there is a great selection in domestically made products with even more points gained on in house end to end production and assembly, American Made, Australian Made… they are brands that will allow a slightly higher margin. So keep in mind if this kind of production sourcing is possible.
What about competition?
Competition is actually good to have when you are looking to creating a product. It means that they already introduced your product to the category. The market knows your kind of product exist and most importantly there is even feedback!
Exploring the feedback on major online store markets will give you a good foundation on how you develop your idea as well as what will make your product stand out. However, sometimes it can be challenging to develop a product that is unique but not have too many similarities with existing products in the market.Early research before you even start to plan your product on a paper is how nowadays products are developed. Market research, feedback, surveys and utilizing every kind of tool available. The resources that are available are more accessible now than ever.
Amazon is a great place to figure out who your competition are along with their product quality control issues, consumer-facing and overall question you want to know before anything: does it sell well? Tools such as Jungle Scout are amazing to analyze the sales and if there is a space to bump up those margins when you drop your revolutionary product. In many examples of successful and failed products, the key is the pricing and it is a make it or break it kind decision for sure.
With Amazon’s quick delivery options, the product samples are in your hands in no time and the testing can begin. With the rise of fake reviews, there surely can be some misleading information but as mentioned, the stat tools are the way to put everything into perspective.
A survey is a great tool!
There are a lot of places that you can create online surveys. Website such as Google forms and Survey monkey has really grown in the past decade with a very reliable way to get feedback on your idea and pricing. Get as much data as you can, put it into a spreadsheet and give it a very thorough estimate and where your idea comes into the picture. You surely heard of A/B testing, this is also great since you give several options to your audience to provide feedback on, whether it is the packaging design, the product colours or actual versions of the product you are launching. These people who are responding to your surveys are your potential customers or a very similar profile who would like or do not like your upcoming product for its features or pricing.
You know where and whom to sell, what next?
The last time we shared a bit about where your prototype can come from and who to hire to design it. Now, with a sample of your product in your hands, where do you go next? You got funding to run that first MOQ (minimal order quantity) with included packaging and shipping to your warehouse but how many steps are there in between?
From your agreed sample and CMF (colour, material, finish) aligned with the manufacturer, there will be tooling cost and assembly, quality control and so on. All of these procedures are done on the manufacturer’s side but why not be involved in as many steps as possible. At the end of the day, you need to know how your product looks like in real life and your consumer's hands!
Let's talk a bit about tooling cost, with your product probably consisting of plastic or containing some plastic elements, you will need moulds for the injection moulding process - these are expensive. Other than that, depending on the manufacturer's process, there will be a bunch of fixtures, assembly patterns (jigs), and some milling work with custom tooling ends… you should ask your manufacturer to detail all the steps before you agree on pricing.
The Production has Started!
Congratulations, with the first samples agreed on and the mass production is on its way, you did quite a bit of work and now focus on QC (quality control) and surely on how to get your first order quickly and to get more and more orders. You want your moulds and tooling investment to pay for itself fast!
If you went through Kickstarter and the first orders are your delivery to the backers, you have some of the work cut out for you because these consumers will provide amazing feedback on which you can improve and get back to the manufacturer to fix the problems with the product if there are any. Get your backers to post video reviews to showcase how they use the product. There might be even a new way your idea is solving a specific problem. As mentioned before, get data - analyze it!
Getting even the simplest idea off the ground has its challenges but you can rely on your manufacturer, the production system is very much streamlined, and the packaging has conventional standards you can follow at first. The materials, colours and finishes are also within a limited range for you to pick from and your consumers to be happy with everything.
The road from the idea to a shipping ready product in a box is serious but also fun and one will learn so much on every step that you will think of generation 2 or 4 in no time!
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