Many small businesses start from a product design concept, whether they are planning on producing small items like plastic bottles to large items like furniture, they all need to consider the following questions for a successful product.
What is my product?
Silly question, but one that is fundamental to ensuring the correct product development. Having a clear idea of what your product is enables you to focus on your research and your end result. It is also important to understand how your product is different and how it will stand out from other products. Is there a gap in the market for your idea?
What is your product’s function?
What will your product do? Will it be used indoors/Outdoors/multi-purpose? These questions ensure that throughout the process you have an end user in mind. Are you targeting a specific gender/age group/business? There is no point trying to make your product appeal to a customer group that will never use your product. For example, creating a nutcracker that will appeal to teenagers is a waste of time as the primary user group will be people 50years upwards. It is also useful to see if people are already producing something similar to your product – how can you do it better? There is nothing wrong with incorporating something that works well in a similar product into yours (unless it is patented) but you just need to ensure that either yours is slightly different or a superior product.
Can my product be cost effective?
At the end of the day it all boils down to costs, larger costs mean higher retail prices which may price you out of success. Therefore, you need to know your target market and what they are willing to pay for products similar to your idea that are already on the market. Are you producing a high end product that will be used and looked after or are you creating a one-use disposable item?
To keep costs to their minimum you need to consider the following:
– The materials you want your product to be made from. Using metals where a plastic could do the same job is an unnecessary expense (unless you are producing a very specific high end product). This is because plastics can be moulded very easily. This reduces your manufacturing costs.
– The manufacturing process. Products that need to be made out of multiple parts incur greater manufacturing costs so where possible it would be recommended that your product has a few parts as physically possible. Manufacturing is also determined by your desired product finish, material selection and batch volume. Generally the larger the batch volume the lower the manufacturing costs. The moulds used to produce your product are also very costly, so higher production volumes reduce your overheads further.
– Your product’s life span. How long do you want your product to last? Do you want it to break after one use? If you are creating a high end product that has an expansive life span then your material choice can be your own personal preference – you are also able to price your product higher as you would be unlikely to get repeat custom. However, if your product is disposable or has a short life span, it is important to ensure your costs are as low as possible, so choosing the best and cheapest material for your product to function properly is important to ensure repeat custom and high turnover.
Good luck with your product development remembering to keep your costs and end user in your mind throughout your process.
About the author: Written by Amtek Plastics , a UK plastics manufacturing company that can take you from design concept through to product manufacture, assembly and packaging.