If someone asked you what product innovation is, the answer would be pretty straightforward. Product innovation refers to creating and introducing something new to the market, whether a product, a service, or a process. It can also refer to bringing improvements to an already existing product. But what exactly is the importance of product innovation, and what does it do for businesses in the practical sense? Let’s explore some of the reasons and find answers for why some products and companies succeed while others are bound to fail.
Types of innovation
In broad terms, all innovation refers to the same thing, introducing something new. It can include improvements in components or materials, upgraded technical specifications and other functional characteristics depending on the type of the product in question. All these changes are adopted for a single purpose: heightening user-friendliness and making products that are better or more appealing to consumers.
Consistent product innovation is the backbone of a successful business and is behind the fame and renown of some of the world’s biggest and most well-known brands. Innovation itself is split into three categories that include:
- New products: This is the most common form of product innovation and probably the first one that comes to mind when you hear the phrase. Despite their inconspicuousness, they’re also the most challenging ones to manage. They’re more difficult to get right from the get-go, as they create a disruption in the market. As such, they also come with more risks, meaning that many entrepreneurs will think very seriously before taking this step. The most difficult part isn’t coming up with an idea but implementing it and then driving it toward market adoption. Given the rapidity with which trends change, it’s complicated to accurately estimate what has the potential to be saleable and what doesn’t.
- Incremental innovation: This solution aims to improve already existing products. Generally speaking, the problems are already quite successful, and the improvements only boost their marketability. Within particular niches, the newer products often coexist with the ones they were derived from. For example, laptops, tablets and smartphones are technically derived from PCs, but they haven’t replaced computers on the market. They only enhanced the use of gadgets and made using them more accessible and efficient.
How to do it
So, what are the steps you need to take to start product innovation in your company? The most important thing is to find out what customers want. This way, you ensure you’re not going to waste any resources, whether time, money or raw materials, designing goods that won’t sell. The products you develop must answer your customers’ needs and be the answer to targeted problems they encounter on a daily basis.
The next step is to improve the core of this prospective product continuously. Incremental changes should become second nature when you’re coming up with a new product. After all, it’s doubtful that you’ll hit the jackpot from the beginning and come up with a stellar idea. More likely than not, there’ll be a prototype to which you’ll keep adding and removing elements for months, if not years before it is ready to see the light of day. If your merchandise allows it, you can also take already existing products and refashion them to fit new markets, audiences and channels.
Coming up with ideas on your own takes a lot of work. It is also challenging to run a self-assessment of your ideas that can provide you with a definitive answer of whether or not you’re on the right path. And since creativity and good ideas typically get a boost in teams, consider working with a digital agency San Francisco. They hold significant expertise in planning and executing innovation processes and have a keen sense of pinpointing trends and opportunities. Whether you’re looking to improve products you already sell or to come up with something new, an agency helps you develop your pilot programs, so you can have a solid foundation on which to build the rest of your strategy.
You can’t truly grasp the importance of product innovation until you’re aware of the many benefits of this process. The first and most visible is a competitive advantage. If you come up with a product that truly stands out within your niche, you will undoubtedly have an edge over your competitors. However, it might not last long as other companies follow in your footsteps and replicate your model. This is why you need to conduct continuous innovation, and if you notice there’s nowhere further you could feasibly go with a specific product, move on to something else.
This is also an excellent time to consider what makes some products successful while similar ones flop. The contributing factors include no fitting market to purchase your items, poor design choices, inadequate implementation, lack of quality control, feature creep, incorrect assumptions about clients and insufficient market research. Generally speaking, product failure comes as a result of more than one, so before you start your plan, make sure you’re accounting for all these potential troubles.
If your sales have been experiencing a consistent slump over the recent past, the key to solving your problems might be to push for innovation. It’s not uncommon for businesses to miss out on opportunities and lag behind. While this is inevitable at some points, when done over a long period, it can cause you to lose significant ground to your competitors and, in extreme cases, be wholly ousted from the market. When you get involved in innovation, your company becomes more resilient and is able to not only stay afloat but support and sustain its growth.
Running a business is tough. There are so many variables to take into account, and while some swear by certain methods of achieving success, the truth is there’s no surefire way to achieve it. The best thing to do is trust your gut instinct, and combine it with objective knowledge and market research. It’s your best bet to make educated guesses that’ll propel you to business success.