Having collaborated or/and developed Products across various industries for Companies ranging from startups to SMEs and Fortune 500 in Asia, Europe and N.America, in a series of 7 posts, we share Factors we experienced and affected our Design and Product Development processes.
Here, in our 2nd post, we focus on “MARKET/-ING”, considering this domain as the membrane, filter, skin between the internal (Company) and external (Market/Competition) environments.
disclaimer: The examples presented below are nor Projects/Products 03 designed/developed unless otherwise stated. All rights remain with their owners.
BRAND IMAGE FIT - Strong brands strive to maintain a consistent Brand Image across their communication activities and Product portfolio. To this direction, Designers and Development Teams are required to seamlessly fit the overall Product’s stance, characteristics and image to the existing Brand’s look and identity.
Look at Fiskars, the famous Finnish scissor maker, the first one to produce scissors with plastic-wrapped handles to improve ergonomics. Its orange organic-shaped handles are such indispensable feature of the Brand’s identity that is practically impossible to think of another color and form as 100% “Fiskars” and therefore any new design, is predetermined to possess this element. 
COMPETITIVE POSITIONING - Blue Oceans are few. Most Products are positioned in bloody Red ones. Designers and Development Team for daring Companies are expected to create Products that will avoid any reference to any of the numerous competitive ones. For conservative ones, they will be asked to blend the Product within the overly packed marketplace. In both directions, Designers and Development Teams will research competition, cluster it and identify patterns to either avoid, or follow.
KTM back in the late 90’s wanted from a hardcore off-road bike Product range to enter a more mainstream market, close to the one of street-bikes. KTM’s Designers deconstructed the key elements that characterise visually both bike categories, strategically composed them in one bike and developed a unique product, the iconic KTM Duke.
KEY FEATURE / USP - Not all Products released have a distinctive Key Feature. In this case, Designers will be oftenly asked to come up with design “stories” that the sales, marketing and advertisers will be able to communicate to the public. However, when there is a Key Feature, it is of paramount importance this one to be highlighted, reflected on the Product’s design, not as a styling gimmick but a strategic Brand element.
Dyson,the producer of the unique vacuum cleaners, wonderfully demonstrates, advertises its Key Features, technologies and innovations through its Product design. Being a design-engineering driven company, since its first vacuum cleaner, Dyson showcases its core technology by using transparent covers to reveal and bold colors to stress the unique features of it cyclone technology it offered. 
TRENDS - The only thing that is constant, is change (Heraclitus). Social, Technological, Environmental, Economical and even Political evolution create an ever changing context within which Companies and Products have to operate. Mega-Trends highly influence and even disrupt human behaviours and therefore industries, while Mini-Trends, monthly, yearly shape short-term attitudes towards Products and Services.
In the 2009 Salone del Mobile (world's most prestigious furniture show, Milan/Italy),a keen observer would identify a mini-Trend in the furniture industry. All the manufacturers presented objects made predominantly of wood, with small amount of plastic parts when plastic until then was their material of choice. Was it an unanimous decision to follow a fashion environmental Trend? No. It was 2009 right in the middle of the financial crisis and manufacturers chose wood once it is  a low capital intensive material, requiring almost no development and tooling investment compared to plastic.
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