“Innovation is the creation of the new or the re-arranging of the old in a new way.” Michael Vance
Many people think of product ideas frequently, simply based on their need for something newer, easier, better, faster. Whenever I ask someone how they thought up their product idea, the answer is usually “Because I needed it!” Necessity is the mother of invention. If you have the same problem time and again, chances are that others are struggling with it too.
Ideas for products usually fit into these 3 categories:
- A product completely new to the marketplace
- An upgrade to an already existing product
- Using an existing product in a totally new way or new market.
Knowing which category your idea fits in, will help you determine how you need to market it and differentiate it from the competition.
Completely New: When you think of a completely new product idea, it’s common for people to wonder why it’s not in the marketplace already. It may seem so simple that you say to yourself “Someone must have tried to invent this before. It’s so obvious!” But that may not be the case. You may have found your calling! Liquid Paper was invented by Bette Nesmith Graham because… she needed it! As a secretary she had frequent typos so she took matters into her own hands and developed her own concoction to cover the typos. She sold it out of house for years. Long story, short: In 1968 Graham sold to Gillette for $47 million. Bette wasn’t a scientist, just a smart (woman) problem solver!
New Twist on Existing Product: We all use tools and products daily and you may find yourself questioning the performance of something. “This could be so much better if….” If you have an idea like this, you are upgrading an existing product. This is what I did with my Moisture Jamzz Gloves, just updated and modernized the classic white cotton glove beauty secret. It’s that simple! Think about the women’s tool kit too, the one that was popular a few years ago and sold in Target and all of the home improvement stores. It was simply the men’s tool kit with feminine, pretty handles. Voila, a new twist & a new business! Give that old product a fresh new purpose and therefore a fresh, new market.
An Existing Product with a New Purpose: If you are using a product and realize that it would also work well in a completely different capacity, you are in this category. In this case, the product needs to be re-marketed to a new audience in new packaging usually with some design tweaks and message change. The Microplane tool is a perfect example here. This started as a tool for home improvement projects. Then someone realized it was great at zesting fruit for recipes in the kitchen. Next, someone realized that this same Microplane helped skim dead skin from dry heels. Geeze, what’s next for the Microplane?
So, think about things as you use products. Look from a new perspective sometimes. Listen to yourself when you think about how you could improve/change/tweak something. There’s a great “Biz Brainstorm” (p. 22-23) exercise for helping you convert your idea into reality in my new book, Your Idea, Inc. (Adams Media) www.yourideainc.com