Should this Exist? A short guide to evaluating your idea’s worth

Should this Exist? A short guide to evaluating your idea’s worth

Should this exist?

In our past two decades of helping our clients launch new brands and build upon existing ones, we’ve observed some factors that increase the likelihood of an idea being adopted in the marketplace. If taking note from our clients wasn’t enough, we’ve even decided to introduce a few products of our own. What’s written here is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to launching your new idea but, rather, aims to help you explore the reality of your ah-ha! moment:

Should this exist beyond my imagination?

We don’t mean “should this exist” as a thought-provoking moral dilemma as is often the case on the popular new podcast sharing the title. No, what we’re asking here is, why is this idea worth pursuing? Is it worth the grueling hours that will need to get it off the ground? Is it worth sacrificing the time you could be doing something else? Is it worth the injected plastic that will, one day, end up in a landfill? Whenever we’re going through the process of launching something new, we always start by asking ourselves two important questions:

    1. Why should this be brought into the world?
    2. Is there an existing alternative that is already solving the problem we’re aiming to?

FABRIQ Speaker design sketches

Why should this be brought into the world?

Rather than proposing elaborate new financial models to evaluate the revenue potential of your idea, our objective is simply to prompt you to think about a few key questions prior to committing your energy to chase after your new idea. For most people, the light bulb goes off when a personal need for something arises but, to be viable beyond a personal prototype, you’ll need more than one customer.

Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to launch an idea that connects with small, specialized audiences across the globe. The continual increase in free-flowing information paired with more efficient logistics infrastructure has made niche groups of consumers more accessible than ever. While specialized audiences may be spread thin geographically, they can often be found in tightknit groups online and generally like to share their experiences with the rest of the community. The caveat to this is that specialized groups of category enthusiasts tend to have stronger pre-existing brand loyalty, higher quality expectations, and are very quick to spot imposters who are just stopping by to make a quick buck. If your idea is meant to address the needs of a specialized niche group, authenticity had better be in your game plan.

Communities exist globally where people will buy niche products online

Whether your idea is specialized or has mass market appeal, to introduce a new product and urge your customers to trade it for their hard earned cash, you’d better have a very compelling story. How is your idea going to contribute to the lives of those who use it? Like a new CRM tool for sales teams, does it help people do more with less? Or, like the output from the entertainment industry, is it based on making people feel good? If your idea doesn’t remove pain points or make a positive contribution to someone’s day, it’s probably time to head back to the drawing board. Unless you have a huge marketing budget to help introduce your idea to the world, you’ll need early support of advocates and this is only made possible by providing a remarkable customer experience. Why not do some preliminary exploration with a sample of your target market before launching headlong after your idea?. When we receive a slow nod and an “I might be interested in that” we know we’re in trouble. While presenting new ideas, we’re looking for jaw-dropping genuine excitement. During the early stages of whatever we’re working on, we refer back to the teachings of Seth Godin and ask ourselves the very basic; is this really worth talking about?

Competition – Do alternatives already exist?

After concluding that an idea has merit and is worth bringing into the world, it’s important to understand the alternatives that are already available. A quick google search is insightful and can help you understand if your new idea isn’t so new, but we advise you go beyond that and identify if there’s anything out there that solves the same problem you’re aiming to.

Access to sourcing websites like Alibaba, intuitive e-commerce platforms like Shopify and the speed at which we can now connect with freelancers on Upwork have made it easy to lay the groundwork of introducing something new to the world. A business can now be started in a local public library and requires little to no mastery. It’s important to remember that, as these barriers are eliminated for you, they’re also being eliminated for your potential competitors. As we continue to build platforms and tools that amplify noise, why is your idea going to stand out from the rest? Remember that long before you compete for sales, you will need to compete for your customer’s attention. Publishing an e-commerce website is one thing, but finding the people to visit it is where the required mastery has now shifted to.

Person making online purchase of product

In our years helping introduce new brands and ideas, we’ve realized that there is a major misconception that being better is enough. Does your new knife stay sharp 15% longer than the leading brand at Target? Unfortunately, 15% is not worth a consumer’s cost of switching or the inconvenience it will cause the buyer to move something else off the shelf. Better is only enough when the odds are already in your favor and this isn’t likely to be the case. Often, you’ll find yourself up against brands that have been spending decades building retail relationships, reliable supplier networks, and international brand awareness. Whether it’s a consumer, buyer or investor, the gatekeepers you need to impress with your idea are already busy doing something else and you’ll need to find a way to get their attention. Once you have their attention, you will then need to convince them that your idea is worth the cost of switching. When it comes to launching new ideas in a crowded space, we advise innovators to aim to launch an idea that provides at least a 10X benefit over the next best thing.

 

Why 10X?

In his work, Understanding the Psychology of New-Product Adoption, John T. Gourville notes that consumers tend to overvalue products they already own by a factor of three while companies tend to overvalue their new products by a factor of three. As a result, there is a 9X mismatch about what developers think consumers want and what consumers actually want. This model uses only psychological biases and doesn’t take into consideration the market advantages possessed by pre-existing competition so we feel it’s safer to strive for a 10X improvement.

Understanding the Psychology of New-Product Adoption 9x effect model

With this disconnect in mind, new ideas are likely to fall flat if they’re only 2 or 3X better than the entrenched market players. In order to negate the upper hand the existing competition holds and give an idea a chance to succeed, it needs to deliver substantial benefits. Bookstores already existed when Jeff Bezos decided to start one but he figured out a model that would allow Amazon to have 10x the offering. Dollar Shave Club may not have reinvented the razor, but the sum of experiences it offered consumers certainly hit the 10X marker and rattled the chains of major CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) companies. How can you build upon your idea to ensure your competitors’ customers will look beyond the psychological costs of switching from what they’re already invested in?

Take a breath

The spark of a new idea is intoxicating and helps power entrepreneurs through the grueling early stages of development but these early stages require the discipline and humility to slow down and ask the tough questions. Whether you’re creating an entirely new category or diving into an older area filled with competition, in order to make it off the ground, new ideas need to be compelling and worth talking about. At this stage, it’s important to remember that we are all biased and are likely overweighing our idea’s benefits by a factor of three. Prior to taking on a new project, we work with our clients to dig deep and help answer two fundamental questions: Should this be brought into the world? And how can we make it at least 10X better than the next best alternative?

Rather than getting discouraged if your idea can’t pass this test, take a breath, head back to the drawing board and work on creating an idea for your users to love. Day in and day out, we work with brands to help them increase the likelihood that their ideas gain traction. If you’re in the early stages of ideation and need some fresh eyes, we’re here to help.

Your competition already has the upper hand. How are you going to take that from them?


Bringing a Product to Market: Found Method Podcast

Bringing a Product to Market: Found Method Podcast

Shape’s Director of Marketing, Jordon Sansom, recently had the opportunity to sit down with the guys at Found Method to explore what it takes to bring a product to market. Found Method is a partnership between Cohub and Platoon Studio that looks at the decisions and strategy that go into building, running and growing a business.

On the episode, Zach, Elliot, Charles and Jordon cover product design, brand launch and modern retail while going back and forth on finding a balance between the pursuit of perfection and getting ideas out there.

Listen to the episode on Spotify.

The episode is also available on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

Featured as a top product design agency by DesignRush.


Packaging Design Example

10 Key Tips for Effective Packaging Design

10 Key Tips for Effective Packaging Design

So, you have your game-changing product all dialled-in and ready to sell…. Now what? Just throw it in a box and you’re good to go right? Well…. No, not exactly. Maybe it’s best to step back and ask yourself a few critical questions first to see if you can up your game a bit further and convert a few more sales. Have you considered some of the factors that will affect your packaging decisions? Let’s take a look at a few critical factors that will ultimately affect your product packaging design:

Physical protection

Is your product going to be sold exclusively online? If it is, your packaging may be simpler and cheaper but you will need to protect it during warehousing, shipping & handling. Variables like temperature, time and other environmental influences like dust, mold, insects, microorganisms and UV light can impact packaging. It’s best to make the right decisions on the use of materials from the get-go to avoid any potential issues further down the road. Now that you have a second mortgage on your house to finance your dream product, it’s important to proceed with care and confidence, while so much of your money is invested into your product before you have even sold your first item. Thinking of your packaging as a protective shell for your product is a good approach and only the first of many factors to consider.

VILLO – Multi-room Speakers - Package Design

Villo Multi-Room Speaker Packaging Design Interior view
Villo Multi-Room Speaker Packaging Design

Drop testing

Physically surrounding and protecting your product is only a part of what packaging should do. What about drop testing? It’s the packaging design equivalent to an automotive crash test. Your package will need to survive a fall from a predetermined height and your precious product inside will also need to survive without physical damage. If your product is a food item, you should consider the shelf life measured against the estimated time your product will be in transit, and in warehousing/distribution before it gets to your customer. All those environmental factors mentioned earlier like temperature and time duration will surely have a huge impact. Ultimately, your packaging solution needs to act as a protective outer shell from manufacturing, through shipping & transport and all the way down the line to the retail environment and into the hands of the consumer and that cashier with butter fingers…..

Sustainability

Have you thought about the sustainability of your packaging? Can you even produce a cost-effective packaging solution while looking out for Mother Earth? In a perfect world, we all want to be better stewards of the earth and do our part to reduce any negative impact, but how? You don’t want to be responsible for creating more landfill or be the one responsible for entangling sea turtles in plastic debris. In some instances, you do have options for using recycled packaging materials or at least a percentage of it along with environmentally safe printing dies and materials for any additional product protection while in the box.

The harsh truth is that some times, things are not as environmentally friendly as we might think, particularly if a certain production process has a high scrap rate or increased cycle time associated with it. Some of these processing methods could mean using more energy during production. That can’t be good for the earth either can it? Is your finished packaging solution easy for consumers to break down and recycle? Is every material clearly labeled to help with this process or will it simply get trashed out of confusion or frustration and end up floating in the Pacific ocean. Wow…. So much to think about, right?

Packaging and Display

Packaging Design Example

Tamper & Theft proofing

You will also need to consider how to make your package tamper resistant avoid or reduce potential theft. Yes, it’s a problem and it’s often ignored by many. Is your packaging solution so small and efficient in the use of materials that it is now also very vulnerable to theft? Perhaps your product requires a visual indicator to show consumers that your product is safe to use/consume and tamper free. Many food items or medications have safeguards in place to protect products from tampering and to raise consumer confidence & safety.

Not only can some products be removed far too easily from the package itself, but some entire packages can be easily stolen if not carefully designed to safeguard against it. Often a package for a very small item needs more visual presence or bulk intentionally designed into the packaging solution just to reduce or illuminate the possibility of being stolen.

In addition to the exterior packaging, your product might require additional plastic wrapping, a plastic hang tag or a blister pack or a plastic vacuum formed tray, wire fasteners/tie-downs to help secure your product or protect it.

Accessories

Will your product be all alone in that beautiful package? What about any additional elements that need to be considered? Extra parts, accessories, cables, power adaptors, batteries, mounting hardware/fasteners swag or anything else that needs to be accommodated alongside your product? Many additional items require additional special tooling or forming that adds additional cost and also has a potential environmental impact. If these items need to be food grade, your options will be limited in terms of material choices and may be additional regulations to follow depending on what you need to include in the box.

TAP Wireless keyboard & Mouse Packaging

Tap wearable keyboard packaging design

Copy & Translation

Have you considered what kind of written literature needs to be included to help consumers with your product? How about an instruction booklet, warranty card or additional legal copy? All that copy will need to be written and illustrations & icons created, not to mention any certification labels required and it doesn’t stop there. Just when you thought you had so much packaging real estate to work with, you may need to have all of your copy translated and written in other languages too depending on where you are intending to sell your product. Sure, it’s becoming a global market but there are still many differences within various parts of the world. On top of cultural and language challenges, If you want to maximize your product’s potential, you’d best pay attention to the details affecting all the specific regional nuances.

Retail requirements

Not all bricks and mortar stores are alike and in fact, they all have different practices when it comes to displaying and merchandising your product. Will your package hang on a hook or will it stand on its own on a shelf? Perhaps it will be sold on a pallet in a club store or get stacked? Any concerns with weight? Will it be in a PDQ with its own header card and info graphics? Many retailers have specific  requirements that need to be followed so it’s best to find out what limitations you may be up against before you get too deep into it. You may only have a limited amount of shelf space to work with so the package size will most certainly be a factor. You’ll want to maximize your shelf presence to make a bigger, bolder impact and connect with your intended consumer.

Packaging and Display

Powerbank packaging design and graphics

Cost vs Perceived value

A common objective is often to create the cheapest possible package to help reduce cost but wait…. Not so fast. Besides theft being a potential issue, think about your product from the eyes of a consumer for a minute. Does your packaging solution accurately match your brand essence and project a high perceived value? Will adding 30 cents to the over-all packaging cost help to elevate that perceived value and translate to more sales? If the answer is yes, then it’s a no-brainer. Give your product the best chance to succeed. Conversely, if your product is intended to be a low cost, high volume consumable item, don’t create a package that makes it seem unapproachable or unaffordable. Either way, the packaging should match the brand and clearly communicate your message.

Unboxing experience

Don’t forget about the unboxing experience as a consumer initially opens your package and reveals your product for the first time. Keep in mind that this is the very first chance you have to make a positive impression. If the unboxing experience is not a positive one, your product already has a tarnish on it regardless of how great it might be. Its best to make the experience pleasurable but don’t make it complicated with unnecessary obstacles or barriers. This is not foreplay, let’s get to the good stuff already…. Your product!

Prototyping

One of the best methods of ensuring that your product experience is a good one is to prototype your complete package solution so that you can put it through its’ paces. You may even need to do more than one round too because there are so many variables and considerations involved. Make sure you have some real world, hands-on experience with all aspects of your packaging solution before you finalize it and pull the trigger on production. The more time you spend up front addressing potential issues, the less likely you are to encounter that “ooops” moment further down the road when you have retail commitments to adhere to.

We haven’t even touched on the graphics & printing requirements of the package yet… That is an entirely different subject with a new set of considerations. These include your branding, product story and all the good stuff that helps consumers to make an emotional connection with your product. Be sure to address the top 10 considerations affecting the physical structure of your packaging before you even start with your graphics.

Make sure you have an experienced, competent and knowledgeable team working for you to help you achieve your goals. That second mortgage and extended line of credit is real. Make sure you give yourself the best chance to succeed and get that great product of yours flying off the shelves!

 

Have more questions about packaging design? Let’s chat!

 

Featured as a top packaging design agency by DesignRush.