Creating better products is hard. It is the work of a cross-functional team of talented innovators, developers, coders, engineers, manufacturers, marketers, sales people, and many more, that creates products that win the mind and wallet of the consumer. But where is our real challenge with creating successful products? Regardless of beginning with a good or poor product idea, the work is hard but manageable – from concept through product development and on to product launch and managing the product life cycle.
The most important question is then…
What makes a product idea good?
The answer lies in the meaning the product idea can create.
We already know that successful products are better than competitors, but the most successful products are not only better, they are also more meaningful. Creating meaningful products is the realm of designing for the consumer by focusing on the user experience.
To learn more about creating meaningful products, I interviewed Mark Capper, an expert in user-centered product research and development.
See link for podcast interview below.
The Benefits of Creating Meaningful Products
While functional and usable products may achieve some success in the market, designing truly meaningful products and experiences for customers has additional benefits. Such products are difficult for competitors to overtake because they create a stronger and more relevant connection with consumers. Not only does this create a competitive advantage, but meaningful products achieve higher price points and profit margin. They also generate greater customer loyalty and more customer referrals.
6 Steps for Creating More Meaningful Products
Existing products can be enhanced to create more meaning to customers through 6 steps.
- Focus. Creating meaning begins with a clear and focused objective to drive user research. Select a specific focus, such as increasing the market share of the product with millennials.
- Cultural scanning. Perform cultural scanning by searching topics in social media and identify the cultural themes and trends that impact the product.
- Ethnography. Conduct ethnographic research with potential customers to identify which cultural themes are most meaningful to them. It is important to understand their aspirations and emotional point of view. Tools to understand their ideal experience are helpful, such as asking them to construct a visual collage.
- Data analysis. Organize the information gained from the research, identify key themes, and cluster related information into what Mark calls platforms. Affinity diagramming is a useful tool for clustering information.
- Platform selection. Identify platforms that are currently uncontested in the marketplace – blue oceans – or other platforms with strategic value that is aligned with the focus chosen in step 1. Summarize each platform in a platform description statement.
- Platform testing. Conduct further customer research to share platform description statements and identify those that customers most resonate with. These are the best design opportunities to provide a more meaningful product to the customer.
During the interview Mark shared an example of applying these 6 steps to a real-world project that enhanced a women’s electric shaver, resulting in a more meaningful product and increased market share.
Listen to the interview with Mark Capper on The Everyday Innovator Podcast.
image credit: foe.co.uk
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Chad McAllister, PhD is a product innovation guide, innovation management educator, and recovering engineer. He leads Product Innovation Educators, which trains product managers to create products customers love. He also hosts The Everyday Innovator weekly podcast, sharing knowledge from innovation thought leaders and practitioners. Follow him on Twitter.