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How do I develop my product?

Five straightforward steps that can help you develop a better product.  

How do I develop my product?
  1. Developing a new product starts with idea generation – creating lots of ideas for potential new products.
  2. The second phase is to screen those ideas. This can take place internally (against a range of criteria that might include fashion/design trends, availability of materials, skills or machinery or even cost/price relationships) or externally via market research (there’s little point in making a new product if customers are not willing to pay for it). As well as looking at customers’ willingness to pay for a new product, you also should look to see what your competitors are doing – this may give you new ideas or persuade you not to pursue an idea.
  3. The third phase is to make a sample. Often, it’s necessary to make a sample before you can engage in market research with customers – it’s easier for them to decide when they can see, hold and touch a product.
  4. Once your sample has passed the customer test, the next phase is production. It’s likely that your sample will need some refinement based on customer feedback. In addition, you now must consider the production methods and processes that will be appropriate, as well as the availability of materials, and your choice of colours/sizes etc. Depending on your product, or the uses to which it may be put by customers, you may have to consider also any relevant legislation: for example, electrical elements within your product.
  5. Last, you need to think about packaging: both retail and shipping packaging.  

Throughout this process, you are likely to experience tension between your natural craftperson’s desire for originality, design and quality and your need as a businessperson to ensure the marketability of your product. It’s not a question of one over another – more a need to strike the appropriate balance that works for both you and your customer, without compromising what makes your product unique.


Next Steps

Once you have developed your craft product or design, you should consider:

Although usually thought of in the context of large-scale manufacturing, the principles of ‘lean’ manufacturing are equally relevant to smaller businesses too. According to Richard Keegan, author of Becoming Lean: Practical Steps to Build Competitiveness (NuBooks, 2011), lean “is shorthand for focusing on effectiveness and efficiency across all areas of a business” and “is focused on providing customers with the best possible products at the best possible prices, at the best possible quality levels and at the best possible delivery times”.

The most basic lean techniques are simple:

There’s more to lean than just this – but these three simple tools can achieve significant cost and time savings.

Your product or design may be protectable as intellectual property under copyright, registered design or trademark, see Marketing Crafts & Visual Arts: The Role of Intellectual Property (WIPO).

Trademarking also applies to your brand, a key element of your marketing strategy.

You are responsible in law for the health and safety of yourself, your employees and any visitors to your workshop. You must:

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