As technology re-shapes the marketplace at a rate faster than ever, new product launches are facing increased competition, shorter product life cycles, and lower returns on investment. Innovation has always been a core principle of new product design and development, but today’s product developers are being forced to re-consider the type of innovation strategies that will be used to define their products.
Compared to even five years ago, product developers today are more sophisticated. Beyond this, there is a new breed of product developer going a step further from the herd. These best of breed product developers are creating game-changing products that have a distinctive edge through their technological differences and user experiences in a way that produces strong brand identity while generating maximum sales.
With one eye on the future, here’s what today’s most innovative product developers are doing:
1) Creating Products with Differentiated Capability Systems
The innovative product developer knows that using an established brand or trademark to produce product spin-offs with a few new attributes is an outdated way of thinking that no longer guarantees longevity in the marketplace. Today products must not only have new deliverables, but also have an entirely differentiated capability system to sustain long-term success.
The new marketplace winners are game-changing products that possess distinctive attributes through technological differences and intrinsic characteristics. This new product development model goes far beyond a more traditional strategy of creating products based upon brand extensions.
The Dyson vacuum cleaner is an excellent example of a product that has succeeded utilizing a differentiated capability system. As the first bag-less vacuum cleaner, Dyson revolutionized an entire product category. The Dyson vacuum did this using superior suction power to suck dust into a clear canister which could easily be disposed of and then re-attach itself to the vacuum in a fast, simple manner. Dyson uses a rigorous capabilities-driven system and had over 5,000 product prototypes before the first vacuum cleaner even launched on the market.
Innovation-driven product developers gauge a product’s ability to achieve long-term success on these two factors:
- Does the product have unique attributes?
- Does the manufacturer have differentiated innovation capabilities?
- Is the R&D process well equipped to support this product?
2) Utilizing a Product Personalization Strategy
Transcending all product categories and industries, the age of product personalization and customization has arrived. A true pioneer of product personalization, Dell transformed the personal computer industry in the mid-2000s by enabling mass production of individually customized computers. Arguably, it was Dell ushered in an era of product personalization that resonated with consumers. As consumer habits have begun to shift, the market is seeing purchasing power transfer to Millennials and away from a declining baby boomer population. Millennials seek greater product personalization and tend to be less loyal to brands. Savvy product developers are not only in tune with product development, but also in sync with marketplace trends and using those trends to create innovative products that will dominate tomorrow. Product developers that utilize a product personalization strategy often take the following approach:
- Determine the level of product customization will be offered: allow customers to design a unique product with a range of features or offer minor customization options?
- Offer a simple and easy design template for customers to use as a starting point, opposed to a blank slate that may turn customers off if it’s too complicated or difficult to follow
3) Creating Distinctive products with sleek designs
Many product developers make the mistake of incorporating design too late in the process. Innovative approaches strategically incorporate design in the beginning of the product development process.
This requires simultaneous design and function of internal electronics and the product exterior. Such a strategy allows product components to seamlessly work together with a superior user experience while providing a distinctive look often characterized by sleek design.
In the early 2000’s Apple Inc. uprooted the entire computer industry by demonstrating how an incredible amount of value can be obtained from creating design-driven products. We also learned that an entire industry can be disrupted by featuring design rather than technology to compete. The game-changing products of the tomorrow will be characterized by sleek designs, bold colors, organic form, compactness, and user-friendly systems.
The takeaway – Innovative product developers view design as a strategic resource, not a synonym for aesthetics.
4) Embracing Digitization in Product Attributes
The most innovative product developers have a digital perspective and look for as many opportunities as possible to incorporate digitization in new products. A digital orientation towards new product development requires using smarter technologies and actionable research and data for new product designs. Product developers that incorporate digitization in product attributes are poised to be more competitive in a market place that has increasingly shorter product life cycles. Digitally minded product developers ask these questions:
- How will digitization affect our current product’s market positioning within this product category?
- What parts of our product design may be vulnerable to disruptions from competitors and new entrants? How can we best react to them?
- Which digital attributes must we construct to be considered a product category leader?
5) Globally Connecting Work Tasks to Achieve Cost Optimization and Efficient Manufacturing Production
There’s a tremendous amount of investment, planning, and resources required throughout the new product development cycle. Aware of this, smart product developers recognize the value of globally connecting work tasks by utilizing an outsource manufacturing strategy. This allows new product developers the opportunity to optimize production costs and achieve efficient manufacturing production while preserving product quality with a focus on product innovation.
The savvy product developer knows the value of collaborating with a trusted project management partner that understands their product’s industry and has a vested interest in their brand. This emphasizes focus on creating the products of tomorrow without the additional time consuming distraction and start-up costs found in typical manufacturing initiatives.
Collaborating with a full-service project management partner helps new product developers refine product design and development to increase customer value, develop agile speed-to-market production strategies for high value goods, and provide strategic product management that enables product success in a technology driven world.
Best of breed product developers are no longer just improvising on traditional development strategies. They are harnessing entirely new methodologies and are disrupting entire product categories. Their development strategy is based upon differentiated capability systems, product personalization, distinctiveness, and digitization.
Going a step further, savvy product developers also understand the value of being committed to their core competencies and will often collaborate with specialized or contract manufacturing partners that can help them bring their product designs to life allowing primary focus on what they do best – generating the game-changing products of the future.
Learn how to avoid manufacturing mistakes that will delay your product launch in our Beginners Guide to Outsource Manufacturing.