Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Commercial Aspects - Blog 4

Using a marketing plan as the basis of new product development (NPD) processing can give new insight into established markets and can help position a product successfully in an emerging market.  In every stage of an NPD process, the design is tested against the market research; does the consumer have a need for this product? Will this product give the company a competitive advantage? Can you target a new sub-market by increasing your product mix width?  The product only continues to the next stage of development if it passes these checkpoints.

Creative innovation, however, can often take the opposite approach.  Where NPD examines a market ‘want’ to come up with a product, product design has the ability to give the customer a product that they ‘need’ – even if they don’t know they need it yet!  For example, consider the 1932 Anglepoise lamp; its creator, George Carwardine, was a car designer who came up with the idea for a sprung system lamp while working on a suspension system for a car (Wilkinson, 2013).  It was an idea sparked from a totally unrelated subject to product design, but applied to a lamp it revolutionised task lighting, allowing the user to move the lamp with only one finger. As the product came to market the Second World War broke and the product was advertised as the “ideal blackout lamp” (Langworthy, 2013).  Years later, the iconic design is a constant in our homes and offices as a desk lamp.  At the time of designing, Carwardine had no knowledge of the consumer product market (in fact consumerism was in its infancy), but quickly this lamp was assigned a need to promote it to consumers.  You don’t want this lamp, you need it

The best products are the ones we build relationships with; we enjoy them in their own right when we first buy them, we enjoy the experience of owning them and, when they eventually break, we mourn their passing.  These are the types of products that give us the most joy – ones that provoke happy experiences.  As a product designer this is the ‘holy grail’ of product design as it stops the consumer apathetically buying meaningless objects and instantly discarding them. 

In my opinion, the flaw of the NPD process is dwelling too much on what the consumers say they want and trying to design around that.  For example, let’s say a pair of your glasses breaks because you’ve sat on them.  NPD would produce glasses chains to keep them round your neck, or a hard case to protect them.  Innovative design would say “why don’t we use shape memory alloy, then you can sit on your glasses as much as you want”.

Though the insight gained through NPD processes is invaluable, the most important factor in creating products is to make something meaningful that addresses a greater need.  Thus leading with excellence in product design and creative innovation is the best way to develop a product.

Langworthy, H., 2013. The Anglepoise: a History. [Online]
Available at: https://twelvetwentyseven.wordpress.com/history/
[Accessed 17 May 2015].
Wilkinson, P., 2013. Great Designs: The world's best design explored & explained. 1st ed. London: Penguin Group.