There’s a very popular hack to launching a new product that goes something like this:
1. Look at what’s selling well in a particular niche by researching the best seller lists of the big web ecommerce sites
2. Come up with a small twist to enhance the product and make it your own (preferably not a big change so you have minimal customization costs)
3. Get it manufactured and private labeled under your own brand
4.Capture a portion of the built-in market for that product category
Although this approach might make you feel less like an inventor and more like a mercenary for opportunity, it is a great way to get started building your own product brand. It can also be a great way to quickly start cash-flowing your business and making sales (because demand for the product is proven and guaranteed).
But then there is the other more traditional approach to new product development. It’s certainly more risky, but is arguably more fun. That is, developing and manufacturing a product based on an idea you have, a passion, or a need you see in the market that is going unfilled.
The exciting thing about this approach is that you are literally creating something out of your imagination, passion or creativity. But the trade-off is that you are sometimes in the position of having to ‘invent’ a niche and educate your market about a whole product class that doesn’t yet exist. This takes time (and money). With less competition come fewer guarantees that there really exists a market for your idea.
Take this unique product idea for example. The concept was conceived by one of our clients. This product is in a space all it’s own and requires a different approach to marketing than it would if David had simply developed a twist on an existing product. In a case like this, a lot of time and effort must be spent on educating the market on what the product does, and then why it’s an important part of a frustration-free feline friendship.
David did an entire production run of several thousand units solely for the purpose of testing and educating his market. Giving free product to pet owners, pet bloggers, and others in his market – getting their feedback, making iterations to the product, and winning scores of loyal customers in the process.
The good news is that it’s catching on and in the past month David has received some very serious interest from one of the largest pet store chains in the US. We’re looking forward seeing his brand in stores world-wide.
I’m here to tell you that the journey from idea to a selling product certainly is longer and more winding when you go the way of starting with a gut feeling versus following the data. You should be prepared for a wild ride and prepared to not get it exactly right the first time (we can’t all be Steve Jobs). But if you have a strong stomach, patience, and the resources to see it through – bringing your own brand into being can be a very rewarding experience.
The approach that you use to develop and launch your idea depends a lot on your unique situation and, what your goals are, and how much time you have.
If you’d like to run your idea past someone on my team and get some tips and advice on what the best strategy might be (it’s free!) just go here and fill out an application!