Product Development and Design

Product development is the creation of new products or services, and the improvement of existing products or services. The process should result in products or services that people want to use or buy at a price that is financially desirable for the organization. The process that the organization goes through to develop ideas, determine which ideas are worthy of pursuing, develop the product or service, and introduce it to the market is the Product Development Process.

Product development is important to most organizations, regardless of whether they offer physical products or services. Getting these products to the market quickly, at a cost that is financially acceptable to the organization, with its quality and characteristics fine-tuned to market needs and in a way that does not damage the existing organization’s brand, requires sensitive management of complex processes.

Social media is having a profound impact on product development and design, and it offers the potential to significantly improve organizational performance across the range of product development performance factors.

We live in world where Instagram marketing is more alive than ever! More and more  A, B,C List celebrities are  promoting and trying to sell products such as Detox teas and so on. We don’t know if these celebrities are being paid for these products, and usually when a celebrity is being paid to use their platform to promote a product, they’re supposed to tag the post #ad or #spon in some way indicate that a transaction has taken place

Media. Monitoring. No one understands the utility of social media in the development of products better than than those in the thick of the media monitoring industry, the champions of multiple products which, like digital butterfly nets, capture curated data from the far corners of the online world, with the aims to organize, analyze, and report on that data in an impactful way. In effect, social media research in this industry IS the product. In Canada, a competitive set of top industry players, such as Cision Canada, have made the monitoring, organizing, and analysis of traditional and social data their full-time business by developing digital media monitoring/analysis platforms and bringing them to market. And, given the nearly daily shifts in digital technologies and modes of communication, pushing out new user-friendly, contemporary communications products for clients (mostly those in PR, marketing, advertising, and communications across an expansive list of industries), and meeting the demands of the market in a timely and effective way,  are vital in staying relevant to the needs of the communications and PR professionals who’s primary need is to keep their fingers on the pulse.

From minor alterations, to complete start-to-finish designs, as many as 30% of online shoppers see value in being able to customize products to their liking (Bain Insights, 2013). Co-creation is not a new concept, but with the growth of social media platforms, companies are now more connected than ever to their customers.

Xero is beautiful accounting software. Founded in 2006 by Rod Drury, Xero is a leading international cloud based accounting software company focused on the needs of small businesses. “It always upset me that big, financial software was so hard to actually extract information from,” he said. “We began to see what was happening in the consumer web—that you could start to build these really neat, engaging web applications and not have to install software. Yet we weren’t seeing that innovation happen in small business. So to me, there was a very obvious opportunity.” Rod Drury, Founder & CEO at Xero, quoted in “How Rod Drury Built Xero From A ‘Small Set Of Rocks In The South Pacific’ Into A Global Player” With a passion for accounting and technology, what product could be developed to help small business owners with accounting? In order to answer this question, according to an article on forbes.com, Drury followed a few hundred small business owners around. “We realized they would all kind of do the same thing: go to the office in the morning and click on the Windows XP computer,” he said. “They knew it would take five minutes to boot up, so they go and pour themselves a coffee. Then they’d get back to their desk, start drinking coffee, read the sports scores, and the first business thing they did in the morning was to go to the Internet banking. And we asked, ‘Well, why do you do that?’ Because they wanna see who paid them overnight so they could see what cash they had and what bills they can pay. And cash is the lifeblood of small business.” Rod Drury, Founder & CEO at Xero, quoted in “How Rod Drury Built Xero From A ‘Small Set Of Rocks In The South Pacific’ Into A Global Player”

Traditional marketing has given way to a new era of digital marketing where social media and customer input are king. Gone are the days of sending direct mail pieces and emails to massive lists of customers and crossing your fingers that you hear back from at least a few of them. Now, with the help of social platforms like Influitive, creating partnerships and relationships with customers is not only possible, but is actually the key to building new campaigns, content and product development.

Ice cream is a perennial favourite dessert or sneaky late night treat for most of us. Four All Ice Cream in Kitchener, Ontario, has taken the universal appeal of ice cream to heart. When Ajoa Mintah decided to pursue her dream of starting an ice cream company, she did this with an awareness of the importance of community. Four All is committed to using locally sourced ingredients which keeps Four All inextricably connected to local farmers and producers. This sense of connectivity plays out in the categories of frozen treats that they produce because there is something for everyone: Childhood, Vegan, Foodie (creative flavours), and Classic.

Founded in 2016, CharterClick is a young startup based in United Arab Emirates, envisioned by its creators as a universal platform for yacht cruise rental. CharterClick is an online booking service that lets you book yachts, speedboats, and fishing trips all under one site. The main feature of the system is that it works in real time – something that no vessel aggregator has done before. CharterClick first approached Eminence in December 2016 wanting advice on their social media strategy, finding that their main challenge was targeting the right people. Their main objective was to grow their social presence online and generate sales through social media. CharterClick knew they wanted to target a wide range of both locals, tourists and expats from around the world, starting with Dubai expats. The challenges: Attracting more people to click through to the website to book a Charter Generate Awareness of CharterClick online Prove digital marketing is effective Directly targeting the right people Eminence began looking at a strategy for their social media channels by analyzing the behaviour of the target market and the direct competitors. With yacht rental being a highly competitive business in the UAE, however none of these companies had an easy to use website, that allows yachts to be instantly booked without calling the company itself. Eminence found out that the target would be interested in a variety of charters, and a content plan would need to be put in place in order to generate results from the right target audience. CharterClick was provided with a comprehensive social media strategy for their marketing team to follow. Eminence sourced a range of local influencers who were managed, and selected through their followers based on the needs of CharterClick. These influencers posted and wrote about their experience, producing remarkable results. The efforts were focused on the timings, days, and different types of campaigns that generated engagement from new and existing followers to both CharterClicks Facebook, and Instagram.

Copper Branch: Continuous Improvement Via Social Media

kbarrett   October 31, 2017

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Are you on board with the food revolution? A growing awareness is spreading  and the demand for plant based meal options is growing. Studies confirm the link between eating animals, especially processed meat, and the link to cancer and health conditions such as diabetes. Environmental impacts of a meat based diet have been demonstrated, and the ethics behind factory farming are being scrutinized. People are reading labels and choosing organic, non-GMO and local ingredients more often. Copper Branch, a quick serve plant based restaurant, is fulfilling the gap in the food industry and is well timed with this growing lifestyle to ride the wave of popularity and expand across Canada and internationally with their brand. Social media has played a major role in Copper Branch’s business development and continues to help them evolve and tailor menu items to their customers. Copper Branch opened its first location in Montreal Canada, and has since grown to twelve locations across Quebec and Ontario. By the end of 2017, fifteen locations will be in operation. The first launch outside of Canada will be in the city of Boston, USA. Copper Branch operates under the franchise model, for any curious investors who may be reading this.  I was lucky enough to speak with Andrew Infantino, Director of Marketing, who has been with Copper Branch since the early planning stages. During the initial planning and research phase in developing the concept of Copper Branch, Andrew transitioned over to a vegetarian diet. He could no longer ignore the link to diet and health and he states he will never go back to his flesh eating ways. In his own words Andrew states: To work at Copper Branch it is not a requisite to be vegan per say, because again our mission is more health focused. But I’d say the majority of our team at the very least is very much inspired by the plant based movement and have incorporated  a lot more into their diet or have even transitioned into a vegetarian or vegan diet… And so for myself. It has been a journey or stance that I have taken, have held and I think I will hold for the rest of my life. The founder of Copper Branch is Andrew’s father Rio Infantino. Rio has an extensive 22 year history of work in the fast food industry. He was a multi unit franchise owner before he  liquidated… Read more »

After being listed as number five on Fast Company’s Most innovated social media company of 2017, Taco Bell is making a way for itself by focusing on the customers for product development and research. To reach customers in a more personal sense, Taco Bell has been using social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to review customers complaints, ideas, and creativity. “Instead of sitting behind glass and listening to a focus group, we now have access to 20 million consumers and can be inspired by them and connect with them and have real relationships with them (Lacy, L. (2016, November)”.

From goofy grins to stand-out chins, the extraordinary expressions of more than 3,000 candy-faced hopefuls came in fast and furious in the Make Your Face a Maynards search – the first contest of its kind to transform one lucky Canadian into a delicious candy treat. Oshawa, Ontario’s own Jessica Winacott was randomly selected from the top 10 finalists to become a bite-sized confectionary celebrity as the face of Maynards, Canada’s #1 candy brand. (Legaspie, 2011) Maynards was a confectionery manufacturer in the United Kingdom and Canada. It was best known for manufacturing wine gums, Sour Patch Kids and Sour Cherry Blasters. Following acquisition by Cadbury in the 1990s, it is now a brand of Mondelez International. In 2016, the brand was joined with Bassett’s to create Maynard Bassetts. (Wikipedia, 2017)

In a command centre in General Motor’s Detroit headquarters, the employees scanning a bank of monitors are making a vital contribution to GM’s product lifecycle management.  But they’re not designing new models or developing the next product launch. They’re listening.  The command centre is part of GM’s Centre of Excellence (CoE) and the employees are members of a team of 30 “social media customer care advisers”. These individuals use social listening tools to follow customer conversations on 150+ brand social channels for GM, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac as well as 85 forums where car buffs congregate.  But the team are more than electronic eavesdroppers and they’re doing much more than just monitoring tweets and likes and collecting data. These social listeners actively engage with potential and current customers, helping to amplify positive feedback and rectify negative customer experiences. In a post on Hootsuite, Christina Newberry notes that while social monitoring “is focused more on metrics, like engagement rate, number of mentions, and so on, … social listening looks beyond the numbers at the overall mood behind the social media posts—how people actually feel about you, your competitors, and your industry. [It can] help you see trends over time that can keep your future marketing and product development efforts on track.“  Here are three ways GM is using social listening in the launch, post-launch and support phases of product development. 

Toronto Public Health (TPH) is Ontario’s largest public health unit, responsible for the health and well-being of a growing 2.8 million residents. At the core of what TPH does, is a focus on protecting and promoting the health of everyone who lives in Toronto. Public health works to prevent illness, before it happens, by offering services to protect against health hazards and diseases, and educating the public on how to maintain, promote and improve their overall health. The work of public health is vast and forever changing, and the success of public health campaigns is vital to keeping people healthy and safe. Social media has served as a very important tool in the realm of public health to promote health promotion campaigns and to leverage public health messaging. It allows for target audiences to be reached within the community with important public health messaging. An excellent example of product development and design through social media can be seen through TPH’s condomTO campaign.

It’s one of Canada’s largest – and oldest – retailers. And for nearly a century, Canadian Tire used good old fashioned advertising methods to reach millions of loyal customers – weekly newspaper flyers, TV ads and the annual catalog were promotional staples for the retail giant. Today, the company still pushes its products through these time-tested methods. But through a multi-million dollar investment in technology, it is augmenting the way it develops, promotes and sells everything from snowshoes to truck tires to pet food.  Social media is playing an increasingly bigger role in the company’s product development reboot. Take its Tested for Life in Canada program. Canadian Tire has put the product development process online and in the hands of close to 15,000 Canadians who have signed up to put the retailer’s merchandise through the ringer. The reviewers test products at home and openly share their reviews and experiences with Canadian Tire, customers, and with other testers, through various social media channels. By developing a unique social media component to its bread-and-butter product development process, Canadian Tire is putting the fate of dozens of popular products – and perhaps its reputation – directly into the hands of everyday Canadians.

Goal or No Goal! One of the most prominent incidents in 2010 World Cup that precipitated the need for goal-line technology was a goal incident that happened between England and Germany match. When England and Germany were part of the second round match, Frank Lampard the English mid-fielder, kicked the ball towards the goal, and the ball bounced off the crossbar and bounced back out to the field of play. Video replay was the only means to check whether the ball crossed the goal line back in 2010. Video replay was only used by media, sports commentators and not used as a tool by referees to decide “on goal or no goal”. Sepp Blatter FIFA President, after watching the game and replay from the stands he agreed that when the stakes are this high, justice outweighs tradition, germinating the idea of the need for Goal-Line Technology (GLT) especially for soccer World Cup events. Goal-Line Technology would remove any doubt about whether a goal has been scored. Why do we need Goal-Line Technology (GLT)? GLT is to support match officials in their decision making during a soccer match as the speed of the game and their position on the field of play may not allow them to make the proper call during games. The human eye can only handle approximately 16 images per second, so the ball will need to be behind the line for at least 60 milliseconds. In some cases the ball is only behind the line for a few milliseconds before a player kicks it back or it rebounds back into the field of play. When this happens the human eye cannot see whether the ball has crossed the line. The human eye can detect balls with a speed of 12km/h or less. Players these days are able to kick a ball with the speed over 120km/h – this would be undetected by the match officials.  Goal-Line Technology was Approved Goal-Line Technology (GLT) was approved for use in football by The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) in 2012. Referees no longer have to decide themselves whether the ball has crossed the line or not without technical assistance. After 9 months of testing in England, Germany, Hungary and Italy, at a meeting in Zurich on 5 July, 2012 decided to introduce Goal-Line Technology into football. Of the 8 companies that participated in the first round of tests, only… Read more »

Social media has become a well known source for product design and development. Social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are just a few examples where you can use social media for product design and development. Stephanie Gehman from The Social Media Examiner explores three ways to use social media for product development. She focuses on establishing your goals, asking the right questions/collecting the data and then using the data effectively.

There is nothing like a cold, refreshing beverage on a hot summer day. But what’s even better is sharing a drink over a conversation with a friend, colleague or a hot date you’ve met for the first time. In 2012, Coca-Cola Australia launched the #ShareACoke campaign. According to this Coca-Cola Australia video, the company’s research data presented an opportunity to re-engage with a generation that has a strong online presence and has grown up never tasting their most iconic product. In fact, the video shares that 50% of teens and young adults (also known as millennials) had never tried ‘Coke.’ They saw this gap and needed to come up with a strategy to change that.

To a child of the ’80s it still seems unbelievable that vacations today are researched and booked almost exclusively online. I remember visiting travel agencies with my parents. I can recall flipping through the glossy pages of snazzy magazines, always trying to sneak that Disney booklet into a place of prominence on the agent’s desk. I can picture how every “Sunshiny Holidays” guide was divided into country-specific sections, and hotels had a single picture depicting what they were all about. One picture. That was all. To help with the limited visuals were 5-7 sentence descriptions written by the proprietors themselves. So you’d thumb through the guide, gaze at the photos and dutifully try to convince your parents to choose the spot with the best-looking pool. All the while the agent typed away on her keyboard, telling you what was available and at what price. It felt like a simpler time, even if it was a comparatively powerless one for consumers.  Alas, I won’t be offering the same memories to my kids (hey!…remember when Mom spent 4 hours staring at her cellphone reading reviews for our one-day getaway to Great Wolf Lodge?). The limited technological sophistication available “back then” unfortunately meant very limited access to accurate, reliable information when booking a holiday. Transforming the Industry The transformation of the Tourism & Hospitality industry caused by the influence and upsurge of social media is nothing short of astounding. Approximately one-fifth of leisure travelers worldwide turn to social media platforms for inspiration within different categories of their travel planning including: Hotels (23%)  Vacation activities (22%)   Attractions (21%)  Restaurants (17%). Along with these sweeping changes, the Travel Marketing Industry has had to adapt to the ever-shifting landscape, finding innovative ways for determining how to create desirable experiences, and secure a high number of bookings. As early as 2011, Ryan McElroy, a recognized leader in the travel and hospitality industry, discovered that many travel agencies were still operating from old blueprints. They were missing opportunities to generate bookings because they weren’t harnessing the social media and digital platforms available. As a solution, McElroy created Travel Agency Tribes. Travel Agency Tribes is a SaaS (software as a service) company that creates all the technology required to make a travel agency’s online presence dynamic, easy to update, and adept at crossing all the new channels that today’s savvy travel consumer expects. This Canadian company has its ear firmly glued to the ground. It’s leveraging the very best that social media… Read more »

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward technology – not the other way around” – Steve Jobs There was a reason why the late Steve Jobs, co founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc  was so successful and revolutionary. He knew the importance of the customer experience first when developing his technology.    With the introduction of social media platforms in the last 10 years, companies have the opportunity to reach out to their target markets for comments and feedback in the development of their products.

Budget Marine is the Caribbean’s leading marine chandlery with retail locations throughout the Caribbean.  Budget Marine’s customers range from live-aboard cruisers, to power boaters, to megayacht captains & crew.  Right now, Budget Marine focuses on product promotions and education.  It does not use social media specifically for service development.   So, for this blog, I decided to write about ways in which Budget Marine can use social media as a tool both to engage customers and to enhance their presence in the market.

Climate change is one of the hottest topics in the news these days (no pun intended); and it is wreaking havoc on our oceans. They are now in a state of peril, from issues such as rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification, leading to massive concerns like coral bleaching and massive marine life die off. Scientists are working to gain an understanding of what is happening in our oceans; the shoreline presents itself as one challenging zone to gather information on. “Researchers and scientists have been scrambling to obtain baseline information about changing ocean chemistry for the past several years, but collecting data in a nearshore environment like the surf zone with high-energy dynamics is not easy.” (Surfrider) “Science knows alot about the deep ocean, but the coast is a different story. Getting data in this surf zone is tough. Researchers call it a hostile environment, where sensors get tossed by crashing waves and buried in ever shifting sands.” (Today, 2016) Fast forward to today – three years and 30 scientists later … we have the Smartfin.  

The company I work for, FlashStock, exists today because brands are trying to connect with consumers and personalize their connection. This brand to consumer connection is driving the ever-growing demand for visual content across digital channels including social media. Reflecting upon the biology of the human brain and how its magnitude processes images 60,000 times faster than written text, it has been proven that major food brands such as McDonald’s, Nestle, and Blaze Pizza are turning to social media to promote their food on photo specific channels like Instagram and Facebook. The aforementioned brands, as well as many other large-scale global brands, are using social media to test and create new products that social media provides to a large community of consumers. These brands can test to the visual appeal of their products and the hype often surrounding these images has been referred to as “food porn”. Representing the necessity of food, for visual and sensual qualities in these images connects consumers as addicts for viewing it. This new concept of “food porn” is what excites and compels consumers to invest in the products being advertised. When the image represents the qualities desired by consumers and an individual’s network comments about it on social media, there is a higher likelihood that others will buy into its appeal. Many global organizations also use social media to easily learn and listen to the reaction of consumers regardless if the audience is reacting positive or negative sentiment towards their products. In 2017 McDonald’s Canada rolled out its “All Day Breakfast” however, consumers took to social media to attack the to be released Skor McFlurry which goes against an allergy free safe haven that McDonald’s is said to be known for. While McDonald’s learned more about what the public perceives them to be, it wasn’t the launch a new product they were hoping for. One other benefit to using social media for product development and research is the ability to test marketing with minimal cost and be able to pivot quickly to make changes. These types of negative events can cost a company revenue, but when done successfully, can present opportunities for dramatic growth. Overall, companies that are leveraging social media for product development and research are being able to bring products to market for appeal and interest much faster. Therefore, companies are realizing higher business performance or return on investment (ROI).

The amount of time, money and research Metroland Media has put into their products and services clearly shows. Having over 110 weekly and daily newspapers, numerous amounts of magazine publications, e-commerce websites, community news sites and many other online websites offering all distinct types of content and various properties, they know how substantial product development and design is. Innovation takes time, Metroland being industry-leading marketers, understand the innovation process, the amount of time that goes into research and development, and the strategy behind commercialization. Maybe this is why we haven’t seen the use of social media or the offering of social media services through Metroland Media yet.

If you’re using social media, chances are you’ve heard of Hootsuite. Founded in 2008, they have quickly grown to become the worlds most widely used Social relationship platform with over 15 million users. The dashboard interface makes easy work of social media integration. Plus, Hootsuite has a ton of blog posts with helpful tips and advice on how to make social media work for you and your company’s product development. How do they know it works? They use it themselves, and are extremely successful at it.

As an International Product Development Specialist with Dempsey Corporation, I know firsthand all of the tiny, painstaking, and highly particular details that go into bringing a product from ideation, to fruition, to the retailer.  From the initial RFP (Request for Proposal) to the actual proposals, to working with manufacturers, buyers and marketing teams, developing a single product can take MONTHS.  In a world of infinite ideas, how does anyone know what will sell?  A buyer’s worst nightmare is backing and investing in a product that flops – wasting value time, effort and resources that didn’t ultimately turn a profit.  And, as a product developer, a buyer’s worst nightmare is also my own.  If I don’t propose and develop products that stand half a chance of doing well for a particular client, my value as a developer plummets.  So how can I (and other product developers) help mitigate some of that seemingly impossible-to-predict burden?    Well, before the internet, we had to rely solely on visiting the brick and mortar stores, attending trade shows, setting up brainstorming meetings, and networking with businesses and people who were doing what we ourselves were trying to do – source, develop and buy products that will ultimately mean success for our enterprise.  Unfortunately for us, what is currently in the stores won’t necessarily be on trend next year, and word of mouth can only take you so far.  However, with the advent of the internet and the introduction of social media, my job just got a whole lot more interesting.  Let me tell you some of the ways I use Social Media in my day to day work as a product developer.

      Companies are like sharks – they have to keep moving or die; develop new products and services or improve existing ones. Without evolving product innovation, companies and products like Blockbuster and USBdrives can just wither away. A paradigm shift has happened In product development and innovation. Where once businesses marketed to their customers via broadcast channels (TV, radio, and print), now businesses broadcast using social media, highly interactive platforms which allow individuals, communities, and business to collectively share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. Social media has become a gigantic global focus group petrie dish, including blogs (Blogger), microblogging (Twitter), collaborative wiki-projects (Wikipedia), forums (Harley Davidson), professional networking sites (LinkedIn), social networks (Facebook, Google+), photographs (Instagram), and videos (YouTube) 1. What is the genesis for new or improved product ideas for business? It’s called “Open Innovation”2, a concept fathered by Henry Chesbrough, and is defined as “The formal discipline and practice of leveraging the discoveries of unobvious others as input for the innovation process through formal and informal relationships (it is the informal relationship that constitutes this innovativeness of open innovation)”. Companies are actively embracing Open Innovation, and they are relying on social media to help them generate, incubate, and give birth to new and refined products through an intricate complementary process of data-gathering, analysis, and customer communication. But what new tasks, disciplines, and organizational restructuring must communication professionals need now to consider turning Open Innovation into measurable and repeatable ROI on product innovation? Today, multi-national firms rarely innovate alone – there is a dynamic interactive process within innovative organizations to establish networks between internal and external entities, particularly in new product development3. More businesses are relying on “co-creation” to develop new or enhance existing products. The term, “co-creation”, signifies an active, creative and social collaboration process, facilitated by the company, between customers and company department producers. Customer co-creation, in short, is open innovation with customers. The idea of co-creation is to actively involve customers in the design or development of future offerings, often with the help of tools that are provided by the firm. Many excellent examples of case studies on social media’s impact on customer co-creation can be found in the University of Waterloo’s Social Media for Business Performance archives: Starbucks Ideas, Dell Computers, Dorrito’s, to name a few. But to create value from social media co-creation, firms have to develop dedicated processes to analyze its benefit… Read more »