Mako’s Take on Trends in Product Design
Like most businesses, every single market has trends and patterns that follow what is currently popular, becoming popular and losing popularity. As product developers and designers, we typically are the ones that create and set the blueprint for which designs become more commercially popular. Although scoping the market to have a good idea over what designs will be most successful amongst various audiences, following a curated product design strategy will allow your business to know which strategic designs will be most profitable and effective with most consumers.
At Mako Design + Invent, we typically follow the ‘MVP’ product design strategy that stands for ‘most viable product’ in which a product focuses more on its viability and a simple design in order for it to be profitable in a market. However, as design enthusiasts at Mako Design + Invent, we love observing and discovering new trends in design and seeing how the world of product design and development evolves. We do notice that some of the best product design strategies do carry the ‘MVP’ method, but one noticeable trend we’ve notice amongst major companies is the habit of following or creating products that follow, or replicate, the product design of a recently trending product.
Product Design Strategy – The Fidget Spinner
For example, the fidget spinner. The fidget spinner was a product that exploded into popularity in the past couple of years due to its simple, but addictive design and feature. The product was designed as a small toy in which users can spin in their hands to stop or aide themselves from, like the product name entails, “fidgeting.” The product was a massive success, hitting almost all markets and audiences as the toy was popular with both adults and children. Following the massive success of the simple toy, saw a rush of major companies and brands creating their own fidget spinners, following the product design strategy in taking the opportunity to gain profit from the popular product trend. Companies followed the simple design of the fidget spinner but added their own twist through different material, functionality, color or branding in order to sell and profit from the trend during its highest peak of popularity.
A great example of this is the company GLAMSPIN who created a lip balm fidget spinner (in which the circles on the fidget spinner where the fingers are placed open up to three different flavoured lip balms). The product was a huge hit amongst kids, teens and beauty fans as following the release and popularity of product, major beauty retail company ‘Sephora’ took head of this product design strategy and signed to have the product be apart of their shelves. For a small beauty company, this is a huge advancement as Sephora is a corporate giant within the beauty retail industry.
This example of following a popular trending product is a great product design strategy, but is it always a good idea for your business? At Mako Design + Invent, we take out clients through a product design journey in which we create a strategic plan for your product journey from concept to production phase. We also offer insightful information about what would be the best course of action to take for your business based on how well the product can do in its target audience and market. With this being said, when we observe businesses taking and following the trend of popular product designs, its not uncommon for us to receive businesses who want to follow in the same idea – that is – create or replicate their own version of a trending product with small details that act as a ‘selling point’ to which audiences would be interested in the purchasing their version of the product. As exemplified by the lip balm fidget spinner, this tactic and strategy can definitely work, especially acting a cute novelty item, but in most cases, sometimes following a popular trending product isn’t the best product design strategy to follow.
This strategy all boils down to your own company and business. If you create a product following a popular design taking over the product design world, you have to make sure your version of the product stands out. Either find something that is missing in the original version of the product or create a design in which consumers from a niche market would be more likely to invest in your version of the product rather than the original. In case of fidget spinner, this product design strategy was done in many ways as brands and companies created fidget spinners with special designs, added features (such as fans, or lights) or branded images (superhero, anime inspired fidget spinners). However, if your business is relying on this niche market following a popular product design, you might need to revaluate the longevity of your business.
Product Design Strategy and Your Business
The problem with popular and trending products is that once their hype dies down, more people are less focused or invested in purchasing novelty or “special” different of the original product. What this means is that, even though the original product itself will remain popular, the efforts that general audiences will go through to buy a speciality version of that product will soon go away. (For example, slap bracelets were once popular, but once they’re popularity began to die down, there was less demand for novelty slap bracelets, such as ones that lit up, etc.).
Therefore, if you’re thinking of releasing a product based off of the popularity of one successful product design, consider the idea that although it might be profitable for a short amount of time, it might not be investing for your business over a long period of time. Unless you already have an established business or company with a loyal customer base, then hoping on the trend to create a temporary product to take advantage of the trend is a great product design strategy but starting off a business based off a popular product design could be short-lived. (The company GLAMSPIN soon disappeared from Sephora and has gone out of business after the fidget spinner trend died down).
If you have a great new invention and you’d like to learn more about this process, get in touch with MAKO here and visit our website to find out more. Feel free to give us a call at 1-888-MAKO and we can set you up on a call with our product analyst!
Article Author: MAKO Design + Invent
MAKO Design + Invent is a full-service consumer product development firm servicing both high-growth corporate manufacturers and invention startups. With a 25-person team across 3 offices (Austin, England, Toronto), MAKO has complete in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering design and prototyping services. To assist our start-up inventor clients, we also have a subsidiary branch called Mako Invent that, in addition to above, helps start-ups with patenting, strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. For our corporate clients, MAKO Design develops world-class consumer electronics designs through our industrial, mechanical, and electrical design teams.
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