How to: Make it a Commercial Venture
It is simple to arrive at a designer and declare your interest in designing and manufacturing a product. Moving the project forward is also relatively easy if you understand what you are producing, how it will function and where the product will sit within your market. However, consideration should always been given to the market you are entering: does it need your product?
A Marketable Product
Pushing headlong into any given market will not ensure your product is a commercial success. It is true that not all electronics products are designed or manufactured with a commercial market in mind, however, understanding that if a product is exemplary and is shown to positively disrupt the current status of a market it may rapidly become a marketable product. Transitioning your product from single item to multiple is entirely possible with the aid of an electronics designer to guide you through the process. In many cases your electronics designer will have already factored the prospect of repeat order into the design process – meaning you scale up to what you need, contact and confirm with manufacturers and presto: your product is now delivered in the thousands rather than hundreds.
This market scenario reflects a bespoke product that suddenly achieves enhanced market status: people want more, so increasing productivity is not a problem. How do you approach a situation where the market is already primed for such products?
After approaching your desired electronics designer with your concept they will enter into discussions with you in earnest. You are the market expert in your field; assume your designer has no competency in understanding how the product will affect the market and you can begin to understand how the product will shape the market. Consider that your designer will be paid no matter what – you sign a contract declaring that once the product is finalised and signed off, in your possession, the designer has nothing more to do with it. Their remit ends when you walk out of the door.
However, outstanding design companies produce outstanding products that they are proud of and as such want to see succeed in a commercial setting. The product bears their manufacturing and design fingerprints and is a reflection of their engagement of a product from inception to finale. They want it to succeed as much as you. Many electronics design companies conduct their own research into the market setting the product will feature in, to ensure they are not infringing patent or copyright law and to truly understand market competition. Merely redesigning and redistributing a product will not sit well with many designers; instead, they want your product to reflect the industry and knowledge that both parties have imparted into the entire process, signing off on an item they are proud to call their own.
As the expert, you must contextualise the item for the designer by asking key questions of your product:
- Will people want it?
- Market opposition?
- How does it improve what is already available?
- Can it be produced cheaper than the current market offering?
- Innovation or replication?
- Product lifecycle?
As well as this, entering into the conversation with accurate market research findings will enhance your products commercial enterprise. Consumer sophistication and projected project cost maintain hold on any industry landscape – narrow margins, niche audience and mass competition in market could spell disaster for your commercial project – however speculating these potentially detrimental effects may also enable you to highlight the optimum approach for your electronics market by understanding the scope of what you are offering vs already available, existing product consumption via market saturation, and rival product cost to gain insight into potential margins. So, how can your electronics designer help you? Initially, by conducting their own market research. Electronics design companies are multifaceted organisations with a diverse range of abilities. Understanding their market is equally important for them, as it is to you. Secondly, by continuing to maintain an open line of communication throughout the entire design process. Their experience with design and manufacturing, their knowledge base of the system and approach to your unique project should complement your own industry knowledge and expertise to enable a successful venture for both parties.
Consider your Electronic Designer's market experience
Lastly, remember that your designer may decide that the project has no commercially marketable value due to any combination of the above factors. It is not to spite you, and your product may well perform exceptionally well as a bespoke design, but this particular product will potentially not survive scaling up, or mass marketing and commercialisation. That is not to say the designer's word is final – this choice rests with you – it is your product and project after all – but it is always worth considering the wealth of experience and number of projects a designer has overseen through the years, their applicable market knowledge and their dedication to product success. They may have seen it all before.
Commercial Venture Terminology
Some additional ‘Commercial Venture’ related terms you may wish to consider:
- Market Saturation: The number of like for like products existing on the market and how many individuals potentially already own one.
- Market Share: How much of the prospective market you already have, or predict your product to move into. In a mass market, a product may be able to blend in at reasonable price, in a niche market the product will have to innovate on any existing design to procure a reasonable market share to ensure profitability.
- Scale-up: The process of extending product manufacturing to produce a higher quantity of goods.
- Consumer Sophistication: Consumer knowledge can affect the perception of your product for any number of reasons: style, function, cost, marketing, exploitation and vulgarity can all feature.
- Consumer Behaviour: Monitoring the behaviour of consumers to predict their next market move. Today’s consumer is frugal and will shop around to find the best deal in any given industry. Understanding how your product places in the mixture is important.