Sources Ideas New Products

10 Sources of Ideas for New Products for Small and Mid-Market Businesses

Can these sources of ideas for new products for mid-market businesses

Learn how these origins of ideas for new products for mid-market businesses can drive innovation and new sales products.

Creating new product ideas can seem daunting, but it’s not as hard as you think. New product ideas that don’t exist or ideas for new products to invent.

There are many different sources of inspiration; all you need is creativity and imagination. So don’t be afraid to try something new – here are 10 sources for new product ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Are you looking for ideas for new products?

Check out this article for 10 sources of inspiration to help get your creative juices flowing. You’ll find everything from classic products that have been revamped to new and innovative ideas that are sure to wow consumers.

So what are you waiting for? Start brainstorming today! With so many great options, you’re sure to find something that will inspire you to create a new product that will revolutionize the industry.

Finding promising new product ideas is the starting point in the idea generation’s new product development process. Ideas for new products trigger planning for new services and products.

New product ideas are evaluated as the process progresses, and new product planning expenses accumulate. Even the most commoditized product can be wrapped up in a new digital experience. We did it with coal transportation. You can do it with your business.

There are variously internal and external sources of new product ideas. Ideas can be generated by information search, marketing research, research and development, incentives, and acquisition. 

I’ll discuss the screening, evaluation, and business analysis to help determine if a new product concept is sufficiently attractive to justify proceeding with development.

Seeds of Ideas for New Products for Small and Mid-Market Businesses

Sources of Ideas for New Products for Mid Market Businesses

Limiting the search for new product ideas to internal research and development activities is far too narrow an approach. Both solicited and spontaneous ideas may emerge from sources.

Sources of new product ideas include company employees, customers, competitors, outside inventors, acquisitions, and channel members.

Procter & Gamble’s Ivory soap was a result of an accident. Manufacturing over-mixed the ingredients in the manufacturing process, creating air bubbles in the soap, causing it to float. Customers love it!

The essential issue management must face is establishing a program for generating and evaluating ideas that will meet the company’s needs.

Several questions must be answered in developing such an idea for a new products program:

  • Should ideas searches be targeted or open-ended?
  • Should the search for new product ideas be restricted to those that correspond to the mission, target market, and company strategy?
  • How extensive and aggressive should the company’s idea search activities be?
  • Should search be an active or passive function within the firm?
  • Where will responsibilities for new product ideas search be placed?
  • How will new product planning activities be directed and coordinated?

My research findings indicate that financial performance is higher for high-technology companies with proven product competence.

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Companies that focus on their product strategy perform much better over a long period than those that do not. These findings came from a study of 246 products across 26 small and medium-sized companies.

The idea search program should be aligned with most companies’ corporate mission and objectives.  While some far-out new product ideas may change a company’s future, open-ended ideas often search for disparate resources and misdirect efforts.

Generalizing the other three questions is impossible since they depend on many factors. Factors like size and type of company, technologies involved, new product needs, resources, management preferences, and corporate capabilities. Top management should develop a plan for idea generation to satisfy the company’s requirements.

Many new product ideas start with customers, particularly ideas for industrial products. Both industrial and consumer buyers are useful sources of new product ideas. A lead user analysis offers promising potential for developing new industrial products.

Lead users are those companies whose current needs and requirements anticipate marketplace needs.

The approach is to identify these market leaders and analyze their needs to improve the productivity of new product development and rapidly change product markets. The objective is to satisfy the lead users’ needs, thus accelerating new product planning.

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Methods of Generating Ideas

Several alternatives for generating ideas are investigated. Typically a company uses more than one of these options.

Search. 

Systematic monitoring of various information sources may help identify new product ideas. New product idea publications and online sources are available from companies wishing to sell or license ideas they do not want to commercialize. 

New technology information is available through computerized search services.  New sources may also yield information about the new product activity of competitors. 

Many trade publications contain new product announcements. Kickstarter and Indiegogo provide a good area to look for new ideas. Marketing management must identify the relevant search areas and assign responsibility for a search to an individual or group.

Marketing Research for ideas for new products.  

A Survey of product end-users can be useful in identifying needs that new products can satisfy. One useful technique to identify and evaluate a new product concept is the focus group, which can be used for consumer and industrial products. 

A small group of 8 to 12 people is invited to meet with an experienced moderator to discuss new product ideas. Idea generation might start with discussing product requirements for some product use. Subsequent focus group sessions can evaluate product concepts formulated to satisfy the needs identified in the initial session. 

More than one focus group can be used at each stage. Focus groups may include channel members and company personnel as well as customers. 

Another consumer research technique is the advisory panel. It’s selected to represent a target market. A producer of computer accessories would include computer users on the panel. Companies are using customer advisory groups. These groups provide insight and evaluate new products.

Internal and External Department.  

The company’s research and development generate many new product ideas. New product ideas may also originate from development efforts outside the company. Sources include inventors, private laboratories, research universities, and small high-tech firms.

Other Idea Generation Methods.  

Incentives may be useful to glean new product ideas from employees, marketing intermediaries, and customers. The amount of the incentive should be high enough to encourage submission. 

The company should also guard against employees leaving and developing promising ideas elsewhere. For this reason, many companies require employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement. These don’t have many teeth; get a patent.

Consumer product funds are interesting for generating new products, developing them, and moving their ideas to commercialization.

While the objective of consumer product funds is to provide a return to investors, corporate participants may gain access to new products without the high cost of internal development. 

However, critics of the funds argue that small venture firms do not have the experience to plan and introduce new products successfully. There’s also the possibility that two or more corporate investors will try to compete for a good new product or perhaps the entire company.

Finally, acquiring other firms offer a way to obtain new product ideas.  This strategy may be more cost-effective than internal development and substantially reduce the lead time required for new product planning.

Idea generation identifies one or more product concepts to be screened and evaluated. And an idea for a new product must be transformed into a defined product concept. 

The complete product concept is a statement about selected anticipated product attributes that show how they will yield selected benefits relative to other existing products or problem solutions. For example, the pump toothpaste dispenser (attribute) offers a simple and quick alternative (benefit) tube.

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SCREENING, EVALUATING, AND BUSINESS ANALYSIS

Evaluating new ideas is essential for new product planning. Assume that a successful new product specifies criteria for commercial success (e.g., sales, profit contribution, and market share).  

While keeping the risk or rejection of good ideas at an acceptable level. If the risk of rejecting an idea is set too low, then too many ideas will be developed that later must be rejected. 

Moving too many ideas too far into development and testing is an expensive mistake. Management must establish a screening and evaluation procedure that will kill unpromising ideas immediately. 

Expenditures buildup from the idea stage to the commercialization stage, or the risk of developing an alarming new product, declines as more and more information is obtained about the product and the market. Thus, the best screening procedure is one that is not too tight. 

The objective is to eliminate the least promising ideas before investing too much time and money. The tighter the screening procedure, the higher the risk of rejecting a good idea. Based on the specific factors involved, management should have established a risk appropriate for the situation.

A new product idea should be evaluated regularly through the new product planning stages. The evaluation techniques appropriate to each stage in the planning process are matched to the evaluation task.

Ideas may be rejected at any stage, even though the objective is to eliminate the poor risk relatively early in the planning phase before major product development expenditures occur.

Screening

 An idea for a new product should receive an initial screening to determine that strategic fit in the company. Two important dimensions should be evaluated:

  1. The strategic capability of the idea
  2. The commercial feasibility of the venture

 Several specific factors in each category are shown in Exhibit 2.

The screening aims to eliminate ideas that are not compatible or feasible for the company. These assignments or somewhat subjective since management must establish how narrow or wide the screening boundary should be.

For example, managing two otherwise similar companies might have different missions and objectives.

Thus, an idea involving a new product market area could be strategically compatible in one company but not in another. The dimensions management evaluates ideas/concepts/products, including all key management areas. 

Some firms develop screening procedures using scoring and rating techniques. The result is a score for each idea being screened. Management can set ranges for passing and rejecting. The methods are effective only if managers agree on the relative importance of the screening factors.

 Evaluation

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The boundaries between idea screening, evaluation, and business analysis are not drawn. Some firms combine two evaluation stages. Nevertheless, the distinction seems appropriate.

After the initial screening, the surviving ideas are subject to a more comprehensive evaluation. Several factors shown in Exhibit 2 may be evaluated in greater depth, including the buyer’s reaction to the proposed concept. Concept tests are useful in evaluating and refining new product ideas.

Concept testing

Concept testing aims to obtain a reaction to the new market concept from a sample of potential buyers before the product is developed.

The product concepts are presented to the test participants in various forms, such as a written description, a drawing, a model, or a package.

Typically, a statement of a concept is part of the testing procedure. The statement should be brief, consisting of one or two paragraphs. Bias must be avoided in the wording of the statement.

When designed and implemented, the concept test offers a useful way of evaluating a product idea very early. The cost of concept testing is reasonable, given the information obtained.

There are some important cautions. The test, at best, is a very rough gauge of commercial success. The test is somewhat artificial since the actual product and a commercial setting is not present.

The concept test is useful in signaling favorable or unfavorable product concepts. It also offers a basis for comparing two or more concepts. A requirement for concept testing is that the product can be expressed as a concept. Moreover, the participants have the experience and capability to evaluate it.

Concept selection 

Completing the evaluation stage should yield one or more concepts for business analysis. In general, consumer products firms spend more on screening and evaluating ideas than industrial product firms.

The time devoted to developing the new product is greater for industrial goods companies than consumer goods companies.

Business analysis 

Business analysis is normally accomplished at several stages in the new product planning process. The business analysis estimates the commercial performance of the proposed product. Obtaining an accurate financial projection depends on the revenue and cost forecast quality. 

The first assessment is conducted before the product concept is developed. Financial projections are refined at later stages.

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Revenue forecasting

The product’s newness, market size, and competing products influence the accuracy of revenue projections. For SaaS computer software, estimates of total market size can usually be obtained from industry information.

Several industry associations publish the industry forecast. Industry and financial analysts like Gartner, IDC, and Forrester provide great information. Estimating the feasible market share for a new product entry is the more difficult.

Sales of new-to-the-world products are very difficult to forecast. One approach is to identify the potential size of the target market and then estimate the new product’s market penetration rate.

For example, sales forecasts for electric cars could be based on the penetration percentage in the conventional gas-driven car market over a specified time.

Cost estimation 

Several types of costs are encountered in planning and commercializing new products. Estimating the cost for each stage in the new planning process is one way to categorize them. The cost increases rapidly as the product concept moves through the process.

The cost for each planning stage can be further divided into functional categories  (e.g., marketing, research and development, and manufacturing). The executive’s experience in new product planning should be able to generate reasonable cost estimates.

Profit projections 

Several profit projections can gauge a new product’s financial performance. Those appropriate for new product business analysis include hurdle rate computation, cash flow, return on investment, and profit contribution.

Break-even analysis is useful to show how many units of a new product must be sold before it makes a profit. Management can use the break-even level to estimate the project’s feasibility.

Senior management must determine the appropriate level of time for projecting sales, costs, and profits. Policy guidelines may be specified. 

For example, the product may be required to recoup all costs within a certain period.  Business analysis estimates should consider the estimated flow of revenues and cost over the time used in the analysis. Typically, new products incur a higher cost before generating revenues.

Other considerations 

Several issues must be considered in the business analysis of a proposed product concept. First, management should formulate guidelines for the financial performance of new products. These can be used to accept, reject, or further analyze the product concept. 

Another issue involves assessing the amount of risk. New products substituted for existing products often cannibalize sales. This factor should be included in financial projections or additional consideration beyond the financial estimates.

EXAMPLES OF NEW PRODUCT IDEAS

  1. Ring Video Doorbell
  2. Car Vending Machines
  3. A Solar-Powered Camping Tent
  4. The Biolite Camping Stove
  5. Ultra-Ever Dry Waterproof Coating
  6. PaperKarma: The Junk Mail-Eliminating App
  7. Senz: The Stormproof Umbrella
  8. Justick: An Electro-Adhesive Bulletin Board

Wrap Up on ideas for new products

The new product development process starts with a search for new ideas. The search should not be casual. Senior management should define the products and markets to emphasize. 

It should state the new product objectives, whether cash flow, market share domination, or other objectives. It should state how much effort should be devoted to developing original products, modifying existing products, and copying competitors’ products.

The purpose of idea generation is to create several ideas. The purpose is to reduce the number of ideas to an attractive, practicable few. 

Download the marketing requirements document and product requirements document.

Organizations recognize the necessity and advantages of developing new products and services. Newer products must replace their more mature and declining products.

The key to successful innovation lies and developing better organizational processes for handling new product ideas and developing sound research and decision procedures at each stage of the new product development process.

New products, however, can fail. The risk of innovation is as great as the rewards.

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Determine the impact of each of these investment decisions on your top-line revenue and bottom-line performance.

General FAQs for ideas for new products

How can I come up with ideas for new products?

Coming up with ideas for new products can be a challenging task. You can use a few methods to generate ideas, such as market research, competitive benchmarking, brainstorming sessions, and customer feedback. Market research involves taking an in-depth look at your competitors and what their customers prefer. Competitive benchmarking is a strategic method of evaluating the performance of your company in comparison to other firms in the same industry.

Where do most product ideas come from?

Most product ideas come from market research, competitive benchmarking, brainstorming sessions, and customer feedback. Market research involves gathering data about the competition and what customers prefer.

What are some creative ways to generate new product ideas?

Some creative ways to generate new product ideas include talking to customers and industry experts, brainstorming with a team or colleagues, leveraging existing technology (e.g., artificial intelligence), and exploring current trends in the industry. Additionally, you can look to other industries for inspiration or use resources such as design sprints or hackathons to develop fresh ideas.

How do I know if my product idea is any good?

You can determine if your product idea is good by conducting market research, getting customer feedback, analyzing the competition, and testing it with a focus group. To ensure the success of your product, you should also develop an effective marketing plan and create a business model to show potential investors or customers that your idea is worth pursuing.

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