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.

Social front end product development is a concept that is gaining traction in the business world. Why? Because it yields off the charts results! Front-end product development involves using social media to gain valuable insights on what customers want. But, it’s not just about social listening, it’s about engaging clients directly in the creation and development of a product or service.

“Steaming” Ahead with Product Development and Design

Catherine Mills   June 14, 2016

In Spring of 1998 after recently being fired from a brewery, three friends set out on a canoe trip.  That canoe trip would lead to a campfire conversation that would change all of their lives. Greg Taylor, Cam Heaps and Greg Cromwell “The Three Fired Guys” wanted to make a Pilsner that would compete with the best in the world. They did just that! Their brewery is named Steam Whistle, drawing from the inspirational sounds of steam rushing from factory whistles, signalling the end of a fulfilling workday and a time for personal reward.1 The Three Fired Guys built their company with a retro feel, when marketing of goods relied on the trust between manufacturer and consumers. Steam Whistle understands the importance of listening to their consumers and makes ever effort to do so by utilizing social media.

Have you ever played hide and seek with veggies? If you’ve ever fed a toddler, chances are you have. Changing the “yuckies” to the “yummies” is no easy task. Most of us living in the Pinterest world with kids are searching topics like “picky eaters” and “hiding vegetables in kid food”. If you’re like me, you find an awesome recipe and think “I can totally do this and my kids are gonna love it!” You go to the local small town grocery store and they look at you sideways when you ask for TVP (textured vegetable protein), ground flax meal or coconut flour. So you end up making something like black bean brownies or kale chips and get a “This tastes like card board!” or “Are you kidding me? These are not chips!!!” In comes Hidden Garden Foods. This is a fairly young company, started by a Mom who I’m thinking had a similar experience to the above paragraph. They make cookies from vegetables, brilliant! They currently have 4 flavours: Chocolate Chip made with pumpkin, Ginger Snap made with butternut squash, Red Velvet made with beets and Cocoa Cherry made with spinach. All gluten free and nut free with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. When I contacted Hidden Garden Foods to comment on how they are currently using social media to promote customer engagement in product development, their response was: “Thanks for getting in touch with us. We’re still learning the ropes of social media so I’m not sure we’re the best example of using it the most effectively…” My first reaction was to move onto a different company but a casually worded, engaging Facebook post and the kind, open and honest response to my inquiry kept me thinking this is exactly the right company to write this blog about. Hidden Garden Foods is already using their established social media network to work through the four main steps of customer involvement management:  idea generation, idea screening, concept development/testing and marketing/ distribution.

Most of us who went to McDonald’s as kids remember our first taste of their delicious French fries and that special sauce packed Big Mac. We also likely remember as we became adults, just how bad their coffee was (as was the coffee at many other restaurants). Well, McDonald’s listened to its customers over the years and introduced a new coffee and most recently a new McCafe restaurant concept. A winner for customers, the McDonald’s business and for social media.

The Waze Craze Commuters usually know a few different ways to get to their desired destinations. There’s the everyday route, the scenic route and the back route but they are always faced with the question of which way is the best at this exact moment. That’s where the mobile app Waze comes in to play – the world’s largest crowdsourced GPS based traffic and navigation app. With over a million users in some countries, Waze connects users to create a real time traffic navigation community. It can be used for avoiding traffic jams, accidents, police speed traps, road blockages, even the cheapest nearby fuel! They call their community of users “Wazers” and add some fun to their daily commutes with status rankings within the community that are dependent on how much you use the app. Waze also offers limited time celebrity navigation voices to guide you from point A to B – imagine hearing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice saying “Hasta La Vista, Baby” at the end of your journey. They have even added a social side to the app with the ability to see nearby friends on the map as well as sharing your drive to see when everyone else is arriving to your destination.

In the 1950’s and 60’s Evelyn Ryan, a mother of 10 kept her children fed by entering and winning contests for jingles and advertising slogans of 25 words or less. She submitted multiple entries, under various names, for contests by Dial, Lipton, Paper Mate and Kleenex. Evelyn’s story, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio  has been told in both print, with a biography written by her daughter and on the silver screen, where she was portrayed by Julianne Moore. What Evelyn and these other companies didn’t realize is they were one of the first to introduce what we now call Crowdsourcing.

You probably already had one of these Glacéau bottled Vitamin Water, whether their most popular flavor ‘XXX’ or maybe the black cherry-lime flavor. Did you know that the black cherry-lime flavor was developed through social media? Vitamin Water was created by J. Darius Bikoff in 1996 in New York City (USA). While on his way to a yoga class, Bikoff wanted a beverage to hydrate himself and rise his energy level… then he came up with the idea to create this energy drink.

Lego has come a long way since 1932, when it was originally founded by a small-time carpenter named Ole Kirk Kristiansen from Denmark. The company was passed down within the family, and today the Kristiansen family remains the sole “shareholders” of the once-small toy business. Currently, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp is the CEO of the well-known global enterprise. Lego has continued to remain a household name because they continue to reinvent themselves to be even better than before. They consistently keep up with trends whether it be their latest Lego sets, Lego movies, or their marketing strategies. These popular building blocks have remain in demand over the last 80 years for their product quality and for it’s influence in fostering imagination from people both young and old.

Started in Australia, Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign won a great success in 80 countries from 2011 to 2013. This multi-national campaign selects common first names, puts them on the label and aims to have people go out and find a bottle with their name on it, then share it with their friends. In Coke’s China market, when first hit difficulties in 2013, the campaign became probably the most inventive twist in the end. Co-creation with social media played an essential role in this success.

The advent of social media opened so many doors for businesses. It also brought about opportunities to build new doors or alter the old ones. Product innovation has changed rapidly in recent years, as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest exploded to become the social media titans they are now. Brands are becoming more and more daring with their innovation initiatives, bringing about bolder and bigger campaigns every year. Kalypso notes that many of the companies they polled on the topic don’t use it for sweeping changes or big projects – it would seem many companies are just dipping their foot in to test the water. Or maybe they are waiting to see how their peers succeed and/or fail?  

  Through its innovative My Starbucks Idea, the company known for fresh roasted beverages, wholesome food on the go, and the decadent Iced Caramel Macchiato, is looking your way for their next great product idea.  

In the Healthcare industry the gap between the providers and receivers is narrowing.  Technological advancements in particular Social Media is the catalyst of this. Crowdsourcing in health care has become a popular trend these days despite the meticulous requirements for specialization, limitations surrounding privacy and strict governance.  It is an instrumental tool in finding patient care solutions and cost reductions that previously would not have been possible. Barbara Prainsack (Professor in Sociology and Politics of Bioscience Brunel University London / GB), delivers an excellent presentation at at TEDxSalzburg about how Crowdsourcing is becoming more prevalent in the Medical field.  She stresses the divide between the two sides: the medical experts and those receiving the care is no longer tenable.  Dr. Prainsack explains, this is as a result of the way in which we as society use technology to communicate, and the need for us to be advocates in our own health care. The age old adage “Two brains are better than one,” is literally meaningful in this context. The more brains, equals more ideas, equals greater chance to solve a problem or find a solution. Jeff Howe, author of “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”, pointed out that: “Crowds are more than wise – they are talented, creative, and stunningly productive.”[1] The application of Crowdsourcing is extremely applicable within the healthcare industry. Whether it be doctors around the world collaborating on a patience diagnoses, or patients helping companies design prosthetics, so that they are able to lead better lives.  I believe that crowdsourcing is intrinsic to our very nature. Although, we may or may not be professionals in the field it is the idea of making a difference, that is the real motivation for most people. One ingenious crowdsourcing initiative was the Columbia Design Challenge. Realizing the urgency to control the outbreak, the deans at Columbia Engineering and the Mailman School of Public Health sponsored a rapid-fire design challenge to confront the Ebola crisis. The idea behind the challenge was to not only come up with rapid low-cost, real-time solutions, from concept to deployment, but also engage the Columbia community—from all disciplines—to take action, collaborate, and have an impact on this critical global issue.[2] For more on this extraordinary contest please listen to Anna Maria Tremonti’s Interview called  “Competition for Solutions finds new ideas to contain Ebola through crowdsourcing truly ground-breaking.” – The Current : Feature series By Design (3rd November 2014)  Listen 27:30 Dwayne Spradlin CEO of Health Data Consortium… Read more »

Ben & Jerry’s has been bringing joy to customers through their ice cream since 1978. They are known for their high quality product and strong economic, social, and environmental values. Ben and Jerry’s strives to make the best possible ice cream in the best possible way. They value their fans as they call customers and have always welcomed customer input to improve their product.

It seems like not that long ago that my previous employer instated a company-wide ban on social media websites and blocked us from accessing any of them from our company computers. It also seems like it wasn’t that long after that they lifted the ban and rolled out the enterprise social network Yammer and encouraged its use. So why the about-face? How did social media go from being a workplace pariah to an invaluable business tool? For companies like my previous employer—and many others that deal in consumer products—one of the key benefits to an enterprise social network is collaboration. Collaboration breeds innovation and innovation is key to success when new ideas and products are your business.

Full disclosure: I’ve been a ‘BzzAgent’ for a number of months now. How did I find out about it? Someone else told me. In turn, I’ve told others and promoted the site to them. And that, is exactly what BzzAgent is trying to do. BzzAgent is  part of dunnhumby, a customer science company that analyzes data and customer insight. According to dunnhumby they, “married science with the most expansive suite of consumer advocacy solutions on the planet to create the next generation of advocacy marketing – one created to build and sustain long-term brand growth. From insights and consumer generated content that optimise your product launch plan to widespread reviews that deliver on your brand promise to the authentic customer conversations across social media that drive product sales, you’ll feel the impact of these programs across your entire enterprise. BzzAgent’s Advocacy Suite is a blend of social and science you won’t find anywhere else – with results you won’t find anywhere else, either.”  To the customer, they are marketed as a way to get freebies and sample new products that you can ‘brag’ about to your friends. There are twitter accounts and blogs devoted to ‘free stuff’ and giveaways and BzzAgent fits into that demographic perfectly.

I am not an avid social media user.  Sure I have my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram personal and business accounts which I update and browse a couple times a week but only if time permits.  There are users however who spends hours upon hours site surfing, tweeting, snap chatting or blogging their way into the hearts of many.  It is because of this influx of social media activity that many companies changed their business strategies and took to the web to research and design their products.  I am aware of companies utilizing various platforms for customer engagement and its employees or perhaps even promoting their range of products on line through various social media campaigns, but putting your faith in customers to help innovate and design your products seems a bit risky to me.  There are companies who have jumped on the bandwagon and have gained much success in their product innovation cycle, but there are also companies that have suffered greatly from it.  So the million dollar question is should companies put their trust in such a process if it could lead to their downfall?  Is there a way to strategically use social media for product development and design? One such company that should have done things a little differently,  in my opinion is Quirky. Who is Quirky you ask? I had no idea until I accidentally stumbled upon them in an article by blogger Leena Rao.  Leena informs us, “Quirky, which is brainchild of serial entrepreneur Ben Kaufman (he’s behind mophie and kluster), is a platform for product ideas… the site tries to use crowd sourcing to develop the product, by engaging participants in collaborating on every aspect of product creation – from ideation, design, naming, manufacturing, marketing, to sales.”

HONY – Harnessing the Power of Social Media

Lynn Jeffries   November 9, 2015

Title of Post: Humans of New York (HONY) – Harnessing the Power of Social Media Industry: Arts/Humanities References: Wikipedia HONY Facebook Social media has the power to do more than just help brands promote products. It also has the ability to connect with people globally on an emotional level.  Brandon Stanton, the creator of Humans of New York (HONY) uses his social… Read more »

YELLOW GOAT DESIGN Creates Social Media Clout

Dianne McBride   October 31, 2015
Yellow Goat Design Creates Social Media Clout

Organization Name: Yellow Goat Design Industry:  Lighting – Commercial References: Lightform, Klout, Yellow Goat Design,   A live, glowing orb with shifting colours is only one example of Yellow Goat Design installations.   What do you get when you cross an audacious goat with mammoth bedazzling light installations? Yellow Goat Design, of course. Yellow Goat Designs, founded in 1997, has been in… Read more »

Making The Next Oreo Cookie

FBatarse   October 29, 2015

Organization Name: Oreo (The Kraft Heinz Company) Industry: Biscuits & Snacks Web references: Oreo, Business Today, Forbes, China Business Review Social Media & Business Performance OREO has always involved its customers with product development. In fact, it’s in their DNA! That’s how the product has expanded into the international baked goods market, with continued YOY (Year-over-Year) growth. Customer engagement with… Read more »

KIVA – The Power of Social Media

Lynn Jeffries   October 22, 2015

Kiva is a non-profit organization, launched in the San Francisco area, that allows people to lend money via the Internet to low-income / underserved entrepreneurs and students in 82 countries. Title:  Kiva – The Power of Social Media Industry: Microfinance Contact: Community Support Team – contactus@kiva.org. Web References: Kiva.org, Wikipedia HISTORY OF KIVA Engaged couple Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley launched Kiva in October, 2005. The… Read more »

How Dell Stormed into Social Media-Driven Idea Generation

jamie.mccormick   October 22, 2015

Title of Post: How Dell Stormed into Social Media-Driven Idea Generation Organization Name: Dell Industry: Information Technology (IT) Name of Contact: Multiple calls for comments not returned over 5 days. CEO: Michael Dell Web references: crowdsourcingweek.com, Forbes.com, dell.com, ideastorm.com, wired.com   Given the unprecedented advances that technology has made over the past few decades, it has become clear that the only limit to what can… Read more »

Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding together leading a path to Success

Lisa Taylor   October 21, 2015

  Company Name: Outdoor Edutainment, LLC Industry: Educational Gaming Contacts: Kristin Peppel, Management, Design, Advocacy, Sales Web References: Official Appalacian Trail Game Site, New Appalachian Trail Game Receives Full Funding Through Kickstarter in 48 Hours!, Hike the Appalachian Trail in your living room with new game, Kickstarter Campaign, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Mark Hanf is a middle school teacher, an avid hiker… Read more »

Madison Electric Products – Turning the telescope for innovative product development

ASeymour   October 20, 2015

Industry: Electrical Contact: Rob Fisher, Vice President of Marketing, Madison Electric Products References: The Brand Establishment myMadison blog Twitter YouTube LinkedIn tED Magazine (The Electric Distributor Magazine) Brad Huff Post Simply Measured Blog The challenge What began as a rebranding exercise turned into one of the most successful new product innovation programs that has garnered more than 400 suggestions, 7… Read more »

Dell is Listening and driving product development as a result

SCapling   October 20, 2015
dell-logo

Organization Name: Dell Inc. Industry – Computing Technology Contacts: Richard Binhammer, Shree Dandekar – Senior Director of Business, Intelligence and Analytics at Dell Software, Bill Johnston, Dell’s Director of Global Online Communities, Barton George – Director of Dell Computer Division Web references – Dell, Social Media Explorer, USA today, Hub Spot, Briefings Direct, Youtube, Readwrite About Dell Dell is a privately owned multinational computer… Read more »