Tag: product lifecycle

Why Is Sustainability Influencing Modern Product Design?

What are consumers looking for when they buy a product? Quality, convenience and cost are three major factors that they consider.

Over the past few years, however, another consideration has been added to the list – today’s consumers want to purchase products that are environmentally responsible. With this in mind, companies are now increasingly reinventing how they design their services and products, putting sustainability at the forefront of everything they do.

A Changing Mindset for Sustainability

Over the last decade, conversations have been taking place about climate change and its impact on the planet at the highest level.

The media is full of stories about the effects of global warming, so consumers are becoming highly aware of why they need to adopt a more sustainable approach to living. So much so, in fact, that customers will pay more for a product that is sustainably produced, and using eco-friendly products has been revealed in studies to make consumers happier when using the product.

bamboo toothbrushes for sustainability
Bamboo toothbrushes – no longer a niche product. Photo credit: Unsplash 

With an increased demand for sustainable products companies are, understandably, responding by transforming their processes to be more environmentally conscious. Not only does it appeal to their target market, it also helps to meet their own sustainability goals (and any targets set by government), as well as benefitting the planet. It’s win-win-win.

Single-use plastics have become a hot topic once again throughout the Covid-19 pandemic with the exponential increase in demand for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), particularly disposable masks and gloves. It seems our awareness around problematic ocean plastics has perhaps been neglected, overtaken by a necessity to protect ourselves from Coronavirus. And while plenty of brands have jumped on the PPE-wagon with branded merchandise available everywhere, the impact of single use PPE products over the course of the pandemic can’t be denied.

Single use PPE - Covid19
Photo credit: Unsplash

How Can Companies Make Their Products More Sustainable?

When it comes to product development, assessing the lifecycle of products is key. From the raw materials used in production, through to its end-of-life scenario, assessing possible alternatives to minimise waste and energy usage at every stage has never been more important.

Many companies are now asking product design companies to develop ways of making products componentised so that, in the instance they can’t be refurbished or recycled at end of life, they can be deconstructed to make alternative products from the components.

This is an important step for those of us working in product development to take. In the past when working for manufacturers we’ve witnessed huge amounts of product wastage on far too many occasions – perfectly good products that could’ve been refurbished, but instead were consigned to landfill.

It’s heart-breaking and completely unnecessary, and it’s our responsibility as innovators to implement a change.

Lego recently announced they have produced their first brick prototypes using 100% recycled plastic. Important? Absolutely, but perhaps far too late for a global company like Lego to have only taken this step in 2021. What has taken them so long?

Lego bricks plastic
Photo credit: Unsplash

Why Is Sustainability So Important When Designing New Products?

As an industrial design company, our focus on product development is always a sustainable one. A primary goal of our business is to limit the negative impact that we have on our planet, and to this end, we strive to ensure each and every product that we develop is developed sustainably.

Sustainable boxed water
Reducing plastics in bottled water. Photo Credit: Unsplash

We recently designed a range of eco-friendly packaging for a new wellness tea brand, PUR-E-TEA. The company’s values are centred around the planet and wellbeing, so one of the main requirements from the client was for the packaging to be as sustainable as possible. For us, looking for sustainable options is a prerequisite anyway, but it’s satisfying to work with clients that have the same values as us. We designed a slimline box to reduce the amount of material needed (whilst also saving on cost), and used chemical-free ink for the artwork. We limited the amount of plastics used within the packaging, and any that were necessary were 100% biodegradable.

Sustainability in product packaging
PUR-E-TEA slimline eco-friendly packaging

Not only do we seek out eco-conscious materials and adopt sustainable manufacturing methods for use in the products we work on, but we have also introduced environmentally sound changes to our business practices, including going paper free as much as possible. All of our product sketches are now made on graphics tablets instead of paper. We use the XP-Pen Artist 13.3 pro for all sketches, which we’ve found works perfectly for our needs, and during video calls while screen sharing we are able to sketch ideas and concepts to allow clients to visualise their product being designed live while we speak! Another way we try to be sustainably conscious is to seek out local suppliers whenever possible to reduce the distance products need to travel. We also encourage video calls with clients, and if face-to-face meetings are necessary, then we look to use public transport wherever possible. Simon also rides his bike to the office most days!

We are working hard to minimise our carbon footprint in line with the latest best practice within the product development industry, and to do our bit to protect our planet for future generations.

8 signs your product is dying (and what to do about it)

Every product that launches into the market goes through four stages of the product lifecycle: introduction, growth, maturity and decline.

When the product reaches the decline stage, profitability will start to fall until it is no longer commercially viable to continue production, and it will most likely be discontinued.

In some cases, the original product will be replaced, either by a newer version with updated features or design style, or perhaps by a brand-new product. Car manufacturers, for example, update models every few years. The name continues but the older models are phased out, replaced by newer versions with updated technology and more modern designs. Eventually the model may be discontinued to be replaced by a brand new model e.g. Ford Escort – Ford Focus.

While the span of each product’s lifecycle is unique, (some tend to spend more time in the maturity stage), they will all eventually reach the decline stage. There may still be some core loyal customers, keeping the product afloat, but overall demand will continue to fall.

Think back to products that used to be popular; cassette players, typewriters, video recorders, even the Nokia 3310 (remember those? 😊). They will either have a very small production run now or will have ceased production completely. Eventually only second-hand products will be available, perhaps cherished by enthusiasts and collectors.

WHY DO PRODUCTS DECLINE?

 Decline is a natural part of the product lifecycle. Typically, when a new product is launched, it will be expensive to manufacture and therefore expensive to buy. As demand grows and production costs fall, competitors will start to sell rival products and the marketplace will fill up. The product will experience a period of growth followed by maturity.

There are several factors that may cause a product to decline, such as saturation of the market or the introduction of more innovative products, which will lead to a fall in popularity.

product-lifecycle-1024x674

Some companies will try to keep a dying product alive for as long as possible – clearance sales, special deals etc, but this is simply delaying the inevitable as the product will continue to lose market share until it doesn’t make commercial sense to continue production.

HOW TO SPOT IF YOUR PRODUCT IS DYING: 8 SIGNS

how-to-spot-if-your-product-is-dying-scaled

1. Customer interest decreases

The interest in the product will fall – less chat on social media, fewer calls and email enquiries.

2. Competitors are launching ‘me too’ products

Competitor products will be launched that imitate the original. Production may be moved to the Far East where it is cheaper to manufacture.

3. Market share reduces

Competitors with newer products are stealing market share from you.

4. New technology launched, product is outdated / unsupported

The product will be unsupported by new software which will affect performance and customer satisfaction.

5. Product is only bought by loyal or existing customers

Demand from new customers will fall, the product will only be bought by existing customers.

6. Necessity to drop price to garner any sales

The only time sales are made is when the price is reduced, which will eat into any margin made on the product.

7. Decrease in marketing spend

Advertising spend will be channelled towards other products that provide a better return on investment (ROI).

8. Production / supply chain costs increase, while sales do not

As demand falls for certain components, it may be more difficult and expensive to source them. If you notice production costs are going up, yet sales are going down, it’s because the product is declining.  

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR PRODUCT IS DYING

Before a product reaches the decline stage of the lifecycle, the next generation product should already be in development. This is especially important if you operate in an industry where new technology is regularly released. Ideally, you should be working to a rolling three or five-year roadmap, with all future product launches mapped out.

Working on the next product development will ensure that your business and its products are always in demand, and keeping up with competitors to protect (and increase) your market share.

However, if your next generation product is delayed, there are some ways you can exploit the existing, dying product to generate some more sales – think of it like using a defibrillator on your product to restart its heartbeat.

Sony Walkman obsolete product

Photo credit: Unsplash

1. Reach new customers

You can try to revive the existing product by attempting to reach new customers, for example by using different marketing channels or platforms. This may require some advertising spend, but online advertising methods can be excellent value for money, and the payoff in extra sales may make this a worthwhile exercise.

2. Rebrand or redesign

You can redesign the existing product and launch it with new and improved features. Rather than developing a new product, a redesign of the existing model could be a quick cost-effective solution to boost sales for a short while. Rebranding the product may also boost demand temporarily. But ultimately, unless significant updates are made, you are delaying the inevitable.

3. New product development

Ultimately, the only option will be to develop a new product to replace the dying model. This is the most expensive solution, but it will have the most long-term benefits, and is essential if your business is to continue growing market share.

When you start developing a new product, it’s essential to conduct market research amongst your target audience. Look at reviews and feedback of the declining product. What do your customers love and hate about it. Invite some of your loyal customers to offer honest feedback via surveys and focus groups. And invite people who are not your customers, too. It’s just as important to hear what they have to say – how can you turn them into a customer?

Once the research is conducted, you will have an idea of the essential and nice-to-have features for your product. You will also know the price point that customers are willing to pay. You can then start developing a product that meets the needs of the target customer at the price they are willing to pay. During this process you may discover that some of the nice-to-have features are not commercially viable and will have to be dropped for this particular product.

We work with our clients to ensure thorough market analysis is conducted for all new product development – which also includes researching and comparing competitor products.

If you’re ready to start your next product development, get in touch with our team today.

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