Tag Archives: Product Development

On-line retailers have been commanding a higher share of Canadian retail spending every year. The trend is largely driven by convenience (e.g., home delivery), wider assortment (due to absence of physical shelf space) and opportunities for consumers to use social media to share their opinions about their experiences with the product. Amazon.com and its Canadian web-site, Amazon.ca,  are  great examples of successfully capitalizing on the above trends to provide the best in class on-line shopping experience. Amazon has become the largest on-line retailer in North America, selling over 480 million products in the USA and 133 million in Canada.

Victoria’s Secret is a brand known around the world for it’s glamours images of it’s elusive Angels creating a goal that many aspire to.  In the fast paced world of today the excitement of receiving their catalogue in the mail has been replaced by a few easy clicks to  order a little piece of the magic.  Though this provides quick and easy access to the customer,  the company has been faced with the question of how to reinvent that same excitement in today’s world?  Enter social media.    

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.

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

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.

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.  

When actor Chris Hemsworth is not on screen swinging Thor’s hammer, you can usually find him in the gym crushing a weight training workout with Luke Zocchi of Zoco Body Pro. Hemsworth uses Zocchi’s expertise to get in shape for major movie roles, but Zoco Body Pro’s target market is the regular joe. Having A-list clients was enough to attract viewers to the company’s social media, but they have stayed for the incredible content. Zoco body pro has used their social media presence to create a new avenue for a business that started as a personal training, and while they still do that, their new market is global. When training local clients, Luke prefers hands on training. Some people like to be yelled at, that old-school, drill sergeant approach, but I normally train alongside the people I work with and that’s how I like to do it. This strategy is excellent for customers lucky enough to live near Zoco Body Pro, but the company has made a move on social media that will also help potential customers that can’t travel to “The Iron Temple”. They have recently launched a program called Twenty40 training that allows anyone on Earth to try the same workout regimen that has produced world famous results. This is an online venture that provides customers with step by step instructions on how to sculpt their goal physique, as well as giving nutrition tips to help fuel the new body. Zoco Body Pro uses many aspects of social media effectively to run their organization, and this new program will help spread their fitness message world wide.

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.

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 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.

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.

To infinity and beyond. Why the desert, and not outer space could be the next great frontier for a company looking to push it’s supply chain into HYPERDRIVE!

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.

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?  

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 »