Design Biz Start-Up Tips #1: Designing Your Product for the Market

lee broom

Product design has to be intelligent right from the very start if you’re going to succeed.  It’s very risky to take a wonderful idea and start putting it into production blindly, without any concept of its place in the world, especially if you are working on a limited budget.  There are questions you have to ask yourself before you start talking to potential customers or manufacturers, and you may have to rethink your idea a little.  This applies to both designers/designer-makers and potential retailers.

1. Is your idea commercial? It’s a fine balance, creating something that is new and fresh but also “comfortable”.  You would be surprised at how safe retailers are playing it at the moment, even the ones you might associate with being directional and trend-setting.  It doesn’t have to be universally commercial, but you need to be able to clearly visualise your potential customer base.

2. Is your product or business model original enough?  It doesn’t matter how commercial your idea is, if somebody else is making exactly the same thing, mass producing and stocking it in John Lewis, you’re taking on a huge challenge.  The same goes for an ecommerce idea – make sure there isn’t already a shop exclusively selling blue cheese made within a five mile radius of Scunthorpe.

3. Research your competitors.  Go out and search all your favourite shops for products in your field that you like, or wish you had designed.  Make a list of at least five realistic potential competitors of them and find out all you can about them, what they’re doing, what they’re designing, where their products are made, where they are stocked (if your competitor is a designer), what sort of press they’re getting.  Do your designs and products fit into this milieu?  How can you make sure you will outshine your competitors?

4. Now go back and look at your idea.  Can you see any areas for improvement?

Image above: Lightbulb by Lee Broom