How do you know a good product idea? What kinds of ideas lend themselves to productisation?
A product idea can have the potential for a commercial success, even if it is not a new invention. On the other hand, inventions do not burgeon into hit products just because they bring something new to the table.
A product or service idea must meet the quality criteria of a product with potential for success if the idea is to be developed further into a product.
The quality criteria for a product idea’s eligibility for development can be examined with the checklist below, for example:
• Timeliness: In addition to having novelty value, an idea must suit the current trends and attitudes and make the product appealing to the target audience at launch.
• Usefulness: An idea must aim at creating a genuinely useful product or service. Customers, partners and retailers will not get behind a product whose value is not immediately obvious.
• Reproducibility: It must be possible to produce or distribute the product in large quantities. Unique works, handicrafts or the provision of a service by a single expert are not suitable for mass production.
• Technical functionality: No matter how titillating a new solution may be, it will serve as a commercial product if a functional implementation or production method is not found.
• Manufacturing costs: The costs of manufacturing or building a product or service have a critical effect on the pricing opportunities of the product. Even good product ideas are unfeasible if manufacturing the products is more expensive than what the customers are willing to pay for.
Although the features and properties of a new product can be honed, optimised and improved incrementally during the product development, the fundamental quality factors must already be in order during the idea stage.
Assistance for evaluating product ideas
It may be difficult to evaluate a product idea’s utility value, eligibility for implementation, production costs and potential appeal to consumers based on general life experience alone. The decisions made in the early stages of product development take up approximately 80 per cent of the costs of the entire product development project. With this in mind, the utilisation of reliable information cannot be overemphasised. In the idea stage, before the initiation of the product development project, it is advisable to conduct a preliminary examination of the various possibilities. Professionally performed preliminary surveys of prior art and competitors provide background information for decision-making.
In addition to information retrieval experts, it is advisable to use specialists with long experience in weighing and assessing new ideas in terms of their eligibility for development and providing related guidance. For example, the Foundation for Finnish Inventions and the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment provide comprehensive expert services for analysing product and service ideas.