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.

DeLaval is the worldwide leader in milking equipment and solutions for dairy farmers, which make sustainable food production possible, ensuring milk quality and animal health. DeLaval was found more than 130 years ago in Sweden. Today DeLaval has 4,500 employees and operates in more than 100 countries. DeLaval sells alot of milking equipment including but not limited too, the VMS; voluntary milking systems robot, rotaries, parlours, milk meters to name a few. In the ever changing dairy industry its important to stay up to date with the last innovations and keep the customers engaged and intrigued with what you have to offer them. When purchasing a new barn or milking system it is a huge investment that is not made over night and customers want to make sure they are getting the best of the best for their cows.  

The times, they are a changin’….a notion famously expressed by Bob Dylan some 50 odd years ago, and one that can be applied to organizations’ and their product development practices as a result of social media. In recent years, technological advancements have changed the socio-economic landscapes for organizations, and have created an ever competitive and complex market. Social media is playing a pivotal role, with an unprecedented rate of adoption that surpasses conventional tools such as the radio, telephone, television etc. Companies across all industries are having to use social media in product development in order to stay current on fine-tuned market needs and trends. Social media offers the potential to significantly improve a business’s performance. It is being used by companies to not only communicate to their customers, but also to learn about their customers, in hopes of advancing product development.

J. Darius Bikoff was brilliant. He was a random guy in New York City, who enjoyed being active and one day combining water and some vitamic C gave him what would turn out to be a brilliant idea, Vitamin Water! Vitamin water is now sold under the glacéau vitaminwater® mostly known as Vitamin Water. It is sold in over 20 countries and new products and flavours are developed often.

Reworked by Regis is a custom home decor and refurbishment artisan based out of Edmonton, AB. Regis Mahoney, the artist behind Reworked by Regis, takes discarded furniture and restores, redesigns, and rehomes it. Customers can commission custom projects through Regis, or can purchase items she has already made at local markets or through Facebook, Instagram, or Etsy.

The adage “it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” isn’t always necessarily true with respect to a company’s product development/design. Sometimes, it can be “what’s on the outside” (the packaging) that really “counts” when it comes to a consumer choosing which brand to buy. One company that proves looks really DO matter is Orbit, the makers of a sugar-free chewing gum. Through their Spotlight Series Campaign, customers were invited to submit their own original designs for packaging of the brand. Moreover, this campaign is not the only time the company has stressed the importance of “stylish” brand packaging. In fact, it is a key aspect of Orbit’s product development. Take this Orbit gum commercial as an example.

When you think about organizations using social media to enhance their product development, what immediately pops to mind? For many of us, it’s Lay’s Potato Chips. Lay’s (and parent co PepsiCo) have run a series of campaigns (Do Us A Flavor, Pick A Flavor, Flavor Swap) where chip enthusiasts from around the world are encouraged to suggest the next great chip flavour. And with great incentive – the innovator behind the winning flavour receives either $1,000,000 or 1% of sales, whichever is greater! Millions of flavour suggestions have been collected, from confetti cake batter, to turkey club, to french onion soup. Essentially, once suggestions are collected, flavour finalists are developed, promoted and sold in stores, and again the public is asked to weigh in and choose the winner. While Lay’s has produced and distributed over 20 “crowdsourced” flavours to date, including Mango Salsa, Fried Green Tomato, and Korean Barbecue, the winning flavours have included: Cheesy Garlic Bread Wasabi Ginger Southern Biscuits and Gravy Crispy Taco

Airbnb is a US based company that operates an online marketplace that allows people to lease or rent short term lodging place at an affordable price. The dwellings range from holiday cottages, hotel rooms and hostel beds to home stays and apartments. The company doesn’t own any real estate, rather it earns by charging a service fee in return for providing this online platform where customers can connect with the hosts. The company has nearly 5 million lodging listings in 81,000 cities and 191+ countries and has 300 million+ guest arrivals at all time.[1] Airbnb had a difficult end to year 2013 because of a trademark infringement lawsuit from a competitor. However, they came back with another marketing campaign that embedded the concept of user generated content within a contest to create excitement about the brand.

Today people use social media to interact with one another regardless of geographic boundaries, easily sharing information, discussing common interest, collaborating on ideas, and building a network of relationships. Consumer are also using their social networks to seek advice, discuss and offer recommendations on products and services. Companies who are engaging in social media strategies aimed at facilitating engagement and two-way conversations (crowdsourcing) with customers provide insight that can and does impact product design, development and even the production of goods and services. This ability to gain product feedback in a relatively inexpensive way is quickly becoming one of social media’s biggest benefits. Monitoring social networks is a good first step to using social media in product development. Product designers and managers can not only learn what customers like an don’t like about their products but can also get ideas on improvements as well as what new features and functions might appeal to consumers in the future. A company that is not only using the wisdom of social listening for product development but was also built on crowdsourcing is Sundial Brands.  Sundial Brands learned early on that listening and acting upon what was said was one of the clearest ways to show that the brand cared. The Sundial Brand Story Born in Liberia, Sundial Brands CEO Richelieu Dennis came to the United States to attend renowned business school Babson College. Driven by his passion for entrepreneurship and sustained by a vision to fill unmet consumer needs, Richelieu partnered with his best friend and college roommate, Nyema Tubman, to pursue a bold concept: address skin and hair care issues traditionally ignored by mass market companies. Drawing from deep traditions born out of his family’s roots in Africa and passed down to him from his grandmother, Richelieu incorporated four generations of recipes, wisdom and cultural experiences into natural bath and body care products, co-founding Sundial with his mother – Mary Dennis – and Nyema. Sundial remains true to the deep family legacy and inspiration of Richelieu’s grandmother, Sofi Tucker. Building upon her foundation, Sundial’s products are inclusive, serving all people to address underserved issues such as hyperpigmentation, dark spots and the special needs of textured hair, as well as consumer demands for efficacious natural products.

LoKoL Klothing is a Canadian lifestyle clothing brand designed specifically with the customer in mind. Designed in Canada, they offer stylish and fashion forward designs, to retro classics. In true Canadian style the brand is inspired to connect and celebrate individual communities. They understand that everyone is proud of their “LoKoL”. LoKoL supports a wide variety of clients and sponsors athletes, musicians and community events/charities.

The mining industry as a whole has sometimes found itself behind the technology wave. Each mine brings it’s own unique situations and the company’s personnel associated with those mines may not have the best knowledge or experience  for a particular problem.  Enter “#DisruptMining 2018”, https://www.disruptmining.com Launched last year, the #DisruptMining Challenge spurs collaboration between innovators industry-wide and encourages ideas that accelerate solutions to some of the biggest challenges in mining. Promoted through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the event has become a quick success.

On April 14th, 1999 a new TV show started in Great Britain with the naughty title „The Naked Chef “. No, it was not what you might think it was, it was a serious cooking show and the only one naked were the vegetables. The show probably needed a strong title like that, because no one on the planet was interested in British cooking, except – of course British Folks. The Star of the show was 24-year-old James (Jamie) Trevor Oliver, who was until then unknown to the world. Due to his fun and rustic presentations that made cooking look easy and simple, he became an overnight celebrity chef. Suddenly a door opened to British cuisine – and mint sauce and kidney pudding didn’t seem quite so gross anymore. Jamie Oliver’s TV appearances and fame grew and slowly transformed the cute cook to the wealthiest chef in the industry. Now, 18 years later, he has built himself quite an empire. Jamie Oliver Holdings Ltd., incorporated in 2002, owns over 60 restaurants, a Pizzeria franchise, a TV production company, an event catering business, an online cookware store, a cooking school, and has published 23 cookbooks  with a total sale of 30 million. Not bad for a guy who started his career in his parent’s village pub! But what is it that makes the brand so successful? Well, there is of course Jamie himself. Cuddly, mischievous, cute, hyper – these are just some of the words people use to describe him. He certainly is unique, and so is his cooking style. His secret?  Simplicity and fresh ingredients. One of his most watched videos on YouTube is “How To Make Perfect Scrambled Eggs – 3 ways”. You would assume everybody knows how to beat an egg and cook it, but no, apparently not. 9.2 million viewers have needed to find out so far.

When it comes to brand recognition, few brands would be lucky to consider themselves within the same class as Porsche. Long synonymous with prestige, the luxury car maker could easily rest on their rich history and not invest in future recognition. But they know that staying within the cultural conversation and maintaining that reputation are vital to their future, and one way they’ve invested in that future is a top-shelf social media strategy.

Whether you feel the draw of healing products or the distinct feeling of energy when encountering healing stones there is no denying that there is a market for these products. Has this product and belief exploded  in the last number of years? Has the power and feeling of stress and anxiety from a world that goes 200 kms an hour caused people to stop and explore other ways to find peace within themselves? Yes it has! Society as a whole has become so unconnected and connected since ironically, social media has taken over our lives. Mentally and spiritually people are realizing that you have to take a step back and find peace within ourselves to be able to continue on with our crazy busy lives.

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.