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.

Role of Innovation in Consumer Packaged Goods Developing innovative products for consumers is considered as one of essential marketing functions at Parmalat.  Product innovation usually plays an important role in life cycle of any consumer packaged goods company. Innovation is tasked to drive incremental volume for the company, keep consumer delighted with its products and provide retailers with increased profits opportunities. In Food Industry, major players, such as Parmalat, are literally expected to come up with new products every year to inject news and dynamics to the category and “protect” their shelf space at retail.

PowToon is web-based software that enables users to create animated videos, According to the PowToon website, “anyone – even if you don’t know a pixel from a proxy server – can create engaging, animated videos with a professional look and feel.” Four years after its launch in 2012, PowToon boasts over 10 million users worldwide who have created and shared more than 30 million PowToons. Product development is ongoing; company co-founder and CEO Ilya Spitalnik recently posted PowToon 2016 Year-in-Review: New Features & 2017 Spoilers on the company blog and social media channels. The product enhancements celebrated in this post were, of course, presented in a PowToon video.

Thirteen years ago Steve Brooks was a husband, and a new father, married to a synchronized swimming coach.  As a graduate of Sheridan College’s Graphic Design diploma program, Steve had taken many photography elective courses and was now a camera and photography hobbyist.  Steve enthusiastically took photos of his wife’s synchronized swimming teams to help with the local club’s promotional material.  This is how Brooks Photography began. Recognizing that parents enjoyed seeing action photos of their athletes, then Markham Synchro president, Nancy Chan, suggested Steve take pictures of all competitors at the upcoming Central & Northern Ontario regional championships.  The photos were a great hit, and soon Steve was at all Synchro Ontario competitions as the official photographer of Synchro Swim Ontario. Taking action shots at synchronized swimming events began to make Brooks Photography a household name in synchronized swimming households.  Parents and athletes alike followed Brooks Photography on Facebook.  Wanting to take the business further, Steve started as second shooter at weddings.   Once he started sharing those photos on Facebook, he began getting phone calls requesting him to be the main photographer for weddings.

With roots dating back to 1943, Ikea has a history of creating affordable home furnishings for families in over 50 countries around the world. Ikea has 500 stores worldwide. Ikea’s vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people.  The Ikea business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at affordable prices. Ikea makes it their mission to understand customer lifestyles. Before creating any product, Ikea works tirelessly to understand its customers so that products can be created with the sole purpose of making life easier and better.  Over the last several years, Ikea has incorporated various social media tactics to engage customers and to generate the feedback necessary  to continuously improve and evolve existing products and  to create new innovative products. Ikea is committed to solving real needs for life at home and customer feedback is absolutely critical to the successful development of its products.  Ikea has been welcomed in the homes of countless families around the world in their quest to understand human behaviour patterns.      

IBM is an American technology company with its headquarters in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware, middleware and software, and offers hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. IBM is also a major research hub that holds the record for most patents generated by a business enterprise for 24 years in a row. In 2001, IBM introduced the Jam concept in the form of a social computing experiment to engage its workforce. This was completed via a web-based, moderated brainstorming session. Starting in 2007, IBM opened the sessions to external organizations similarly intent on fostering innovation through online cooperation. IBM’s Innovation Jams have been used by governments, academic institutions, businesses and other organizations to address proposals ranging from employee involvement, urban development, to global community engagement through public service. “Jams drive IBM’s research mandate forward. IBM uses the most cutting edge technology to glean information from the data collected. Jams bolster organizational value as specific recommendations are provided to the participants upon completion. Jams are the most effective style of crowdsourcing as they target groups of people with common goals.” Christopher Murray, Technician in Development, IBM

We have all stood in front of the closet thinking that you had nothing to wear.  Wishing that someone would design clothes that worked with your lifestyle and listened to what you needed. With Titika couture those thoughts are just a hashtag away from becoming a reality.

New Balance is a privately owned shoe and athletic equipment manufacturing based in USA and England.This Brand founded by William J. Riley more than 100 years ago and has a history longer than Nike, Adidas and some other athletic manufacturing businesses in the market. Not that the company started by manufacturing fancy suede sneakers from its start but, through selling arch supports to firefighters and police officers at the beginning, became more and more popular lately for its quality and unique design. This brand is competing with other mega athletic equipment manufacturing such as Nike, Puma, Converse, Reebok, Adidas, and other similar companies. Same as Nike, Team New Balance has been using social media as one of the secondary platforms to communicates with its customers and get voice of its customer to; A) Understand the product gaps and put together necessary action plans to respond to the market demand, and B )To identify the success of different product launches by getting feedback from its customer. On social media, The number of “likes” or “shares” is somehow a representation of how successful its customer has accepted the products in the marketplace.      

The New York Public Library (NYPL) was founded in 1895 and is the United States’ largest public library system. Today, the NYPL consists of four scholarly research centres and 88 public branches, located between Manhattan, Staten Island and The Bronx. The NYPL holds more than 51 million items within it’s collection and serves more than 17 million patrons annually; from scholars to public school students, to seniors and toddlers. The NYPL is a centre of educational innovation and a community hub that is vital to New York culture. Statistically, one in three New Yorkers do not have at home internet access and the NYPL works tirelessly to close this digital divide. In the rapidly advancing digital age, the NYPL provides patrons (not only at their physical locations in New York), but also individuals worldwide, with powerful online tools to discover their resources and services. Through their website, visitors can browse the NYPL collections that include 800,000 digitized items. The NYPL also offers online librarian support to answer visitor’s questions online at any time. To further customer engagement, the NYPL offers 67,000 free programs annually. To quote the NYPL President & CEO, Tony Marx: “The New York Public Library has provided essential access to books and information for more than a century. Today, we are building on that legacy by increasing access to our collections physically and online, and by transforming our libraries into proactive centers of education and opportunity for all New Yorkers. ”  

Want a personalized home?  Too many that would sound like a dream, but now it is a reality.  With the tools available through social technology consumers are looking for opportunities to be more involved in the production of the goods and services they receive. In the paper A New Consumerism:  The Influence of Social Technologies on Product Design  Ian de Verve argues that “Social technologies have led to the imminent promise of unprecedented user participation and collective content generation, sharing and personalization.”  It is noted that historically it was not economical to personalize each product in a large scale production environment given constraints in the production process, and in the efficiency of getting  individual consumer input.  Given advances in social technology the opportunity has emerged to personalize the final product through consumer input.  This new method of development provides a more emotional connection to the final product as an individual’s tastes are ultimately considered.

A powerful component of social media from a business perspective is the ability to listen to what consumers are saying. Social listening technologies are available to track conversations around specific phrases, words or brands. As a result, companies are able to identifying new opportunities that may not have been on their radar, and many are responding with innovative product development or design. Twenty-five years ago, it would have been costly and time consuming to gather focus groups in order to gain feedback. But today, this valuable market information can be gathered in a matter of minutes—assuming of course that people are in fact talking about your brand. The food industry is a specific sector where product development is critical to success. There are a number of reasons why this specific industry is constantly creating new products or innovating existing ones. I chatted with my colleague, Karen Proper, who is a technical manager in the product and process development department at NSF International to gain more insight on this topic. Karen and her team work with clients in the food and beverage industry to help bring a product concept to life, overcome production challenges or to innovate an existing one. When asked why product development is so integral to business, especially in the food industry, Karen replied, “Product development keeps companies competitive in the marketplace, compliant to regulations, able to react to ingredient and manufacturing process changes, and also responsive to trends and consumer demands—all of which are critical to success in the food industry today.”

When it comes to credit cards, it’s no longer just a choice between Visa, Mastercard or Amex. Consumers are now tasked with selecting the reward program they want partnered with their cards ( Air Miles, Scene, WestJet, etc.). While the reward programs may be a nice addition, if you’re like me, you aren’t concerned with reward programs and you certainly aren’t willing to pay a yearly fee in order to receive them. You just want a credit card with a low interest rate and no bells and whistles. And this is how Barclaycard Ring Mastercard was created.

Are you familiar with Itty Bitty Ballers? I think they’re hysterical. When I saw the tv commercial last month, I knew I had to have one! I immediately went to www.ittybittyballers.ca and – to my surprise, of the nine original figurines, six were sold out! But what is the story behind this viral internet success? GoDaddy, the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to empowering small, independent business ventures, has just closed out their Itty Bitty Ballers campaign featuring Toronto Raptors center, “big man” Jonas Valančiūnas (JV). The campaign was focused around JV’s mythical business, www.ittybittyballers.ca.  The site displays his nine lifelike figurines that capture him in action poses, such as riding a Raptor, dabbing, and giving high fives.  GoDaddy positioned our 7’0 centre as spending his spare time creating these miniature works of art. This juxtaposition was amusing and intriguing enough to drive customers to want to adopt the itty bitty JV’s as their own. Two of the nine figurines sold out the day the campaign launched, and then once the campaign went viral on social media, the remainder sold out in less than 24 hours.  From the outset, the advertising campaign (seen both on tv and online) seems comical, but through their product promotion, the team at GoDaddy managed to virally promote the ease of their solutions while supporting a small local business… all through the power of one itty bitty baller.

Bronzeback, Bucketmouth, Football, Lunker, Chunker, Toad, Hawgs, whatever word you choose to define fish, angling for those elusive trophy wall-hanger’s has been part of the human DNA for thousands of centuries. According to National Geographic ” Fishing is an ancient practice that dates back at least to the Upper Paleolithic period which began about 40,000 years ago”. So it should come as no surprise that this popular past time continues to remain a popular activity in the 21st century.  

If you’ve played sports or watched almost any team sport you know the sound of the referees whistle. Those 3 different tones are clear and identifiable and their source is a Fox 40 pea-less whistle. What you may not know is that the pea-less whistle was developed and designed by Hamilton Ontario basketball referee  Ron Foxcroft. His turning point came when he encountered the failure of his standard  cork-pea whistle. Worst of all, it occurred during a game he was officiating in the Montreal 1976 Olympics, with 18,000 booing spectators in the stands.  This event changed his life and the sports world forever. The complete story of Fox 40 whistle is on the company’s website.  

Eight years ago, Brian’s Custom Sports occupied a vastly different space than the one they currently hold. A hockey goalie equipment manufacturer, Brian’s was known as a custom graphic company. They made high end equipment, but customers were drawn to the custom designs they could put on the pads, rather than the specifications of the gear itself. Brian’s changed the game in 2008 when they did something no other company was doing at the time, they created a Facebook page. The introduction of this page not only gave the company a massive new following, but also started them down the path of becoming the leader in technological innovation. Brian’s used there social media reach to innovate products for the high and low end markets.

One of the biggest concerns in today’s society is the exposure of electronic devices towards small children such as tablets and video games. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology and 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day. The attempts to preserve the traditions and enjoyments of yesteryear have become a monumental task for some as the growing demand for ‘screen time’ from children are becoming more and more difficult to overcome. Aneesa Bozai, a former Montessori teacher, educator and ardent supporter of homeschooling recognized the trends parents are instilling in their households by bringing in more electronic devices to mollify children’s tantrum-like nature. With her experience in the Montessori world, she was responsible for the purchase and procurement of learning tools, visual aids and play mechanisms for the schools she had worked for. Because of her passion for homeschooling and traditional educational methods, that gave her an idea to bring in products that would not only enhance a child’s learning experiences at such a young age, but also help them connect with some of the traditions of old in toymaking and toy interactivity. In 2011, she launched Eastern Toybox offering “Western Treasures, with an Eastern Twist” as per her Facebook page. Hearing the growing needs of environmentally conscious consumers, Eastern Toybox brought about toys and learning tools from her own design and has also established a platform for artisans and organizations to showcase their own products that fall in line with the same theme. Aneesa hopes to inspire parents to share with their children the origin of their material possessions, and to help raise a generation of thoughtful children. With the mere fact that this organization is product heavy, the use of social media in her product development and produce acceptance strategy was a critical part in ensuring the items she is involved in are at high quality and carry the theme she wishes to showcase.

As I sit, and write this blog today I am sipping on nothing but Mildmay’s finest alkaline spring water, Flow. If you haven’t experienced Flow water yet you truly are missing out. This naturally alkaline spring water is from owner’s (Nicholas Reichenbach) , own family farm in small town, Mildmay, Ontario. The water is packaged into a recyclable Tetra Pak box that is PET and BPA free. This packaging is the first of it’s kind to be used in North America. Since beginning packaging the water has become recognized across North America, and has even gained Josh Donaldson from the Toronto Blue Jays as a spokes person for the brand. Flow prides itself on having a package that is ‘as positive as their water’. In Canadian Grocer article, Canadian company gets into the Flow with spring water, Reichenbach quotes, “It appeals to conscious consumers… people who like high-quality, healthful water and really care about what they put into their body. They also equally care about minimizing their carbon footprint and minimizing their impact on the environment”.

Listening to conversations around current products can uncover ideas for the development of those products, as well as new product ideas. The benefits of using social media to gather information include low cost, instant results while communicating with customers, utilizing social media becomes an emerging trend during production developments process. One of the best ways of conducting social media research is to listen to conversations around product categories. Consumers airing their frustrations is common on social media and one of the richest sources for new product ideas. “Social Listening” is the practice of monitoring trends and conversations about a specific topic, brand or event. It can be a great way of learning more about what people think of a product and how to improve it. “Social media is here. It’s not going away; not a passing fad. Be where your customers are: in social media.” Lori Ruff CreativeLive is an online education platform that broadcasts live classes to an international audience for free. CreativeLive features classes led by leading experts, winning photographers, bestselling authors, and influential entrepreneurs.

Social media and connectivity has gone through a long way in changing human lives. As to business organizations, utilizing social media becomes an emerging trend during production developments process. Especially for consumer facing product development, leveraging social media truly helps to break the geographic and segment barriers in order to be more innovative.

“The Hip” Way Social Media Can Influence Small Biz Product Development

TammySabourin   October 17, 2016

If you were using social media for personal or business use in Canada during the summer of 2016, you will have no doubt heard at least something about The Tragically Hip.  The favoured Canadian band was touring in what likely would be their last, due to frontman Gord Downie’s onset of brain cancer.  Concerts sold out and media of all sorts took note of what was developing into a notable time in our country’s music and lifestyle history.  As the final concert came to pass in August – complete with the attendance and interaction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – an influential social media phenomenon was occurring. Ensight Canada reported, “In addition to multiple trending topics throughout the weekend of the concert, social media posts about The Hip and (Gord) Downie’s First Nations comments generated roughly 20 million potential impressions across Canada over the past week. What’s really telling is that Canada has about 14 million daily Facebook users, so when we look at the impressions generated, we can conclude almost everyone in the country who used the internet or social media came in contact with the story in some way.”

A business cannot remain successful without undergoing change through ongoing product development and design. At one point in time, the majority of new products would be developed through brainstorming sessions – likely with key corporate players sitting around a boardroom table and a large flip chart or white board for recording. Today, product development is vastly different. The current use of technology enables individuals to converse and collaborate anywhere in the world. Perhaps what is of particular interest is the inclusion of social media and how it is now common place for companies to rely on their customers to come up with product ideas. In the world of retail sales, this route can be quite successful. Frito-Lay and their “Do Us A Flavor” contest is a perfect example of a company that took incorporating social media for product development to a whole new level and with great success. Not only does a social media based product development campaign engage customers, it enables the company a chance to create a product that hits the shelves with customers already feeling invested and ready to open their wallets. But is it possible to utilize the same social media product development in other industries to develop services, or possibly entertainment?

DeWALT Inc. is a leading worldwide consumer power tool company, founded in 1924 and acquired by Stanley Black & Decker in 1960. Currently, DeWALT manufactures and sells more than 200 different power hand-tools and 800 accessories. (Wikipedia, 2016). When DeWALT became a customer of Canadian company Vision Critical Communications Inc., an online Insight Community was launched and it would forever change how they develop and design their products.  

Social Media has proven to be a great tool that companies can use to research their target market. Traditional market research can be expensive, but with social media companies can now reach out to a vast audience for feedback and opinions. The benefits of using social media to gather information include low/no cost, instant results, and simultaneously creating another channel of communication with customers that make them feel valued. One downside is of course the potential for customers to provide negative feedback on something as public as Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms, but negative feedback is still very valuable if not more valuable than the positive.

In search of a product strategy as its stock plummets, GoPro’s CEO keeps a shaky but steady hand at the helm. Wall street analysts are gleefully beating up on the young company because they dared to shatter the image that GoPro is/was the next Apple (as soon as a company is likened to Apple it becomes a target for haters). I have to admit that I have a soft spot for underdogs and for early stage companies that have customers that adore them. Exacerbating my GoPro Problem is that I use the company’s products, I love them and I regularly fan-girl the GoPro stars on YouTube.

Organizations are always looking for new and innovative ways to reach out to consumers and drive loyalty. Social media is used for a lot of different things when it comes to business, from receiving customer feedback to advertising new products. Recently, companies have started to involve their customers in a very crucial part of their business, the product development and design of their products. Some companies are using social media platforms for the company’s advantage in order to enhance the development of the next great product, while making customers feel valued by listening to their opinions and ideas. In 2013, Tesco, a British multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer decided to do something different. This organization had an amazing initiative to get their whole social media following involved in the process of creating a new wine, mainly through Facebook.