Wish you could quickly come up with new product ideas for your business? You can. You just need to ask the right questions…
1. Neglected Niches
In any industry there will be several niches that, for some reason, have been unattractive to bigger players or perhaps aren’t served at all. How can you serve these customers at a profit? What product or service do they need? For example, a British insurance company recently launched a Young Drivers’ programme targeting the 17-25 age range. This is traditionally shunned by large insurers due to the perceived higher risk. Drivers are charged based on their actual driving skills, keeping costs low for them and also lowering risk for the insurer.
2. Baby boomer profits
It’s widely known that the so-called baby boom generation is the largest in history. What can you sell them? Take the cosmetic surgery industry, for example. It is riding the aging boomers wave and is growing tremendously, as are indulgence specialists like London’s boutique chocolatiers.
Changes in demographics are noticeable years before they become market reality. What changes do you notice? How can you profit from these?
3. Policy changes
A change in government policy can create a new market overnight. Solar technology, for instance, is still expensive but, due to government subsidies in Germany, many homes have solar panels. This, in turn, supports the local solar cell industry – Germany is now ranked within the top three in the world. Look out for new opportunities by watching and deciphering the news. Ask yourself: How would this government decision help me make money?
4. A new approach
Is it possible to deliver the same product/service but in a different way that is more convenient and saves time? Can you bring your product to where your customers are instead of them coming to you? Ever since recorded history, gold coins and bars have been sold by gold dealers. But, in 2009, a company developed a gold bars vending machine. Several have been installed at busy airports. And they accept all major credit cards.
5. Look at the calendar
What are the significant holidays through the year? Can you capitalise on them with a special offer? Can you come up with a special limited edition of your product, tied to the holiday? A Swedish brewery came up with a Christmas version of its popular cider which was spiced with cinnamon and vanilla and could be consumed both cold and warmed up as mulled wine.
6. Crisis-driven affordability
Have you looked at a product but refrained from buying it because of its price? There are millions of people like you in every conceivable industry. Is there a way to come up with a product at an affordable price, now that consumers are feeling the pressure of the economic downturn? Note, don’t go down the price-sensitive mass market. It’s impossible to win this game. Create a mid-market product instead.
7. Look for problems and needs
There is a plethora of information available to us today – use it to find out what your customers need and what problems they are struggling with. A recent example of discovering and addressing a need is a company selling university textbooks by the chapter! If you think back to your student days, did you ever read a full textbook? Even the professors based their courses around the most relevant chapters, didn’t they?
8. Learn from the mistakes of others
Study product flops. More often than not, there were clever, professional people behind the product launch. They worked diligently; they looked at different scenarios, the market and customers. Harley-Davidson, for example, is one of the best-managed brands in the world. But, a few years ago, it launched perfumes. It was spectacularly unsuccessful – but it taught the company and marketers around the world a lot about brand associations, positioning and brand extensions. Where did it go wrong? Was it distribution, the way the product was positioned, pricing or the angle of the promotion effort? Can you improve on that?
Remember this is a time of opportunity. The current financial situation, massive technological innovation, social and demographic changes – all of these present openings for new products and services and, in turn, the chance to make bigger profits. Don’t miss out on the opportunities, make use of them. Just developing one new product could change your business forever.
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