The use of product design to increase sales is well known. Whilst it is certainly true that a good looking product will sell better than an ugly one, there is considerably more to it than that...
1. Focus on your customers
The importance of understanding what your customers need cannot be overstated. By understanding your customers, you can make it easy for them to buy from you, which can make a huge difference to your bottom line. The only problem is – how do you do it? The best method is to simply talk to them, not just about your products, but about the problems or needs that those products address. Maybe there is a different product you could develop that would address the basic problem more efficiently, or there might be something on their wish list that would make your product more competitive. Taking time to talk to your customers can be one of the best investments you ever make.
2. Understand your market
Taking a long, hard look at the market you are operating in, and your place in it, can help identify areas of competitive advantage for your business. Overall market trends can be complex, and it might pay to get some advice from professional analysts.
Some of the most dramatic sales improvements can come from an examination of you and your competitors. What do you deliver that no-one else can? (Remember, this is not just about your products, but the whole customer experience). If you can identify what makes your offering unique, and promote it well, it will make a huge difference to your sales.
3. Add value, not cost
One of the primary benefits of good design is its ability to add value to a product without necessarily adding cost. In this context, adding value might be additional features that can be incorporated without increasing tooling budgets - or improved appearance that simply makes the product look better and more desirable to consumers. Adding value to your product like this can give you a serious edge over the competition, and make it easier for customers to buy from you. Particularly good examples of added value are those that relate to ease of use, maintenance, storage, performance and stunning appearance.
4. Make your product stand out
In a crowded market, products don’t just need to look good to win sales, they need to be different from the competition. ‘Differentiation’ is one of the most important functions of design, as it can help build your brand, create a coherent product range and generate a lot of positive attention. Car builders are particularly good at this use of design – think of Audi with its large front grille, or the iconic form of the Mini.
Where possible, plan your products as a range, not one at a time – this will enable you to create a stronger market presence (again, think Audi) and increase the value of your brand – all of which will help your sales figures.
5. Diversify your range
Diversifying your product range can make a huge difference to your sales, particularly if you can use your experience to reduce development risks and timescales. Most businesses have the potential to move into new market niches alongside their own, but it often requires a ‘creative leap’ to recognise them. For example, one of our clients had built a very successful business making digital door locks, and then diversified into cupboard locks – with spectacular results.
The secret of this approach is to stick to what you know, and have built your reputation on, but apply it elsewhere. We would be happy to arrange a meeting to discuss which areas you might diversify into, possibly with some of our colleagues from marketing and brand development companies.
Last but definitely not least, innovation can be the key to make your product not just compete, but to re-write the rules of the game. If you can generate ideas that make a significant difference to the way your product works, is built, is used or even disposed of, you can put it in a new class above the competition. Famous examples are Dyson and Apple, but smaller innovations can also make a huge difference to your sales. To discover how your company can innovate, assemble a team of people to think as widely and creatively as possible about what you do and how you do it. Involve engineers, marketing staff, sales people and – yes – some good designers…