The Key to New Product Development? Fresh User Insights & Market Knowledge

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Whether you’re a medical product startup working to break into a new market or an industry giant trying to defend your space, finding actionable insight based on your market’s needs is a key component to new product development (NPD). Insightful, considerate design is the result of truly understanding the people using your product or service and their goals, shaping their experience around them through empathy and respect. This insight your customers will gladly pay for, especially when it’s embodied by empathetic products that relieve them of their pain points.

The thing is, insight has a shelf life.

Finding Fresh Insight to Drive Product Development

The first step is to accept that the knowledge of unmet needs in new and shifting markets cannot be found in the experience of your company or its employees. This can be an especially difficult idea for those with volumes of experience as the expectation is to yield nothing new. But, let me ask you this: Do startups in your industry going after your markets give you pause? Once you get beyond the competitive strategy session in your head, the next question goes something like, “What do they know that we don’t?” Startups get funding for a reason, and almost every single time it’s because they know something before anyone else.

Healthcare legislature and the public opinion driving it are constantly shifting. Cross that with the rapid expansion of new technology and you have an ever more complex landscape of unmet needs and opportunity. For some companies, relying on insight from past success may seem more comfortable than investing in understanding this new landscape. A “we know best” approach to NPD may seem low risk — but so is your potential reward. The ones willing to go out and get in front of their customers and users will be met with fresh insight, the vehicle necessary to bring revolutionary offerings to market.

This process can also reveal lucrative opportunities in other areas of the value chain and even different market segments. It’s not uncommon to see a product based company create a new service based business unit to meet the needs of an under-served market, all because of a little insight.

End Users & Innovation in Healthcare

From a medical product development standpoint, we find it essential to get out in front our users. Medical professionals and the patients themselves are the keys to defining this new medical landscape. They’re the ones who have to adapt as their roles change within the system, revealing areas of opportunity that old products can’t fill. Engaging them through formative user research uncovers their pain points, which can then be refined into unmet needs. This sets the framework for developing a relevant, insight driven product.

Even within commoditized healthcare markets where pricing strategy is the core differentiator, maintaining market relevance provides opportunity. For example, an aged product category full of similar offerings can be upended with the advent of a newly qualified bio-compatible material. Insight within these commoditized healthcare markets allows us to retire old features for ones more currently applicable, all while maintaining the pricing strategy appropriate for the market.

At the end of the day, a repeatable process to derive insight is crucial to long term success. No matter your industry or business model, getting out and talking to your customers about their pain points is the best way to innovate, stay relevant, and drive product adoption.

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