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.

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.

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 »