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How to Have New Product Ideas

There are many techniques for coming up with new products. One of the easiest ways is simply to think of ways to improve existing products. How do you do this most effectively? As you look at a product, generate new ideas with good questions, starting with these...

What can be changed?

What can you change about a product to create a new one? Looking at a book, for example, you might imagine it to be bigger, smaller, longer or shorter. Quickly review what advantages there might be to each of these changes, and you may find some good ideas for a new product.

For example, "bigger" might make you think about a coffee table book that IS the coffee table. Imagining them smaller could lead to a line of books that truly fit easily in your pocket. "Shorter" could give you the idea for cheap short novels that make the reader want to buy the next in the series (and the next and the next). If you get really imaginative, you might think of making books that are waterproof, for use in the pool or at the beach.

What is the biggest problem people have with this product?

This is a question that can generate great product-improvement ideas. What is perfect out there? Almost every product has regular and consistent complaints about it. Identify these, think of ways to resolve them, and you've got your new ideas.

The most universal complaint is perhaps a high price. Almost every product out there will have some people wishing it was cheaper. Find a way to make it cheaper, or find a way to more cheaply fulfill the needs or desires that the product serves, and you have something worth creating.

It isn't all about price, of course. Computer programs, for example. have a more common complaint. They are difficult to learn to use. Think of a way to simplify them and you might have a great new product. Dress shoes are typically uncomfortable. How can they be made more comfortable? Shoveling snow is a lot of work. Maybe you can come up with ideas to make it easier. Problems are opportunities, aren't they?

How can each element be made better?

Asking this question is a very systematic way to generate new product ideas. You just isolate every aspect of a product and find a way (or ways) to improve it. Improve enough different parts of a product, and you have something truly new and different.

For example, let's suppose you are looking at a backpacking tent. You concentrate on each aspect of it for a few minutes, to see what ideas come to mind. Fabric: more waterproof? Set up: easier, faster? Price: cheaper, variable according to options? Weight: lighter? Floor: tougher material, built-in sleeping pads? Space: more room, different configuration? Think of a few good ideas on how to improve even a few of these aspects, and you might have a great new product.

More Questions

Other questions you might ask include: How are similar products better? What is the most important part of this product? What could be changed to help sell this product to different markets? What needs are served by this, and what other ways can those needs be met? Ask enough of the right questions, and you'll get plenty of ideas for new products.

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New Product Ideas