Your product is a great product! It should be flying out of your warehouse into stores, and into the hands of the consumers. After all, you've put time, thought, and effort into crafting a quality product... but it's just not selling.

Despite doing everything right, something has gone horribly wrong. Your great product is sitting in your warehouse or on shelves as consumers walk by with at best a casual glance. Why?

The art of product design is a complicated one, but to put it bluntly, most of the complications are of human origin. It's like the old IT desk acronym for persistent problems at one workstation: PEBKAC.

Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair

If your product is having a hard time, you might want to ask yourself and your launch team a basic question: How does the product appeal to the consumer? Not to the design lead, not to the CEO, and not to the trade press or the bloggers. Unless they're all going to the local shopping center to buy it, you are not designing it for them.

There are many other questions to ask besides those regarding the product's appeal. To begin identifying possible problems with your product, pose these additional questions to yourself and to your team:

  • What is the target demographic? You can't design a product that pleases everyone. Examine, do research, and study the demographic before pursuing product development and marketing strategy.
  • How does the product appeal to your demographic's wants and needs? Your product has a great shot of success if it satisfies an unmet need; otherwise, it is just another product among millions.
  • What place and value will it have in consumers' lives? Products that inspire daily use over infrequent use facilitate a positive relationship with consumers.
  • How is your product vitally different than a similar product of a competing brand? Chances are dozens of similar products are already available. Identifying the unique features of your product helps it stand out.
  • Are those differences expressed on the packaging in a way that will prompt consumers to pick up the product for a closer look? Don't hide your best features; flaunt them on the packaging. Is it green? Organic? Fair Trade? Made in the USA? Stamp it on your packaging.
  • Is your product easy to get out of the packaging? No one likes a package that requires a team effort and use of additional tools to open it.

There is nothing wrong with pulling back an item and retooling the product itself, the marketing, or the branding. There is something wrong with a pile of goods not moving because nobody will say, "Well, the packaging isn't appealing and you need a synchronized chainsaw team to get it out of the blister packaging."

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image of Amy Finn

Amy Finn is vice-president of Finn Industries, a folding carton and set-up box manufacturer located in Southern California.

LinkedIn: Amy Finn