The eligibility for development of a product or service idea is not rooted in its inherent features alone. In terms of commercial success, the competitive environment in which the productised end result will end up is equally important.
For example, if a company is developing ideas for a new kind of ice cream bar, the product will compete with other new ice cream bars, along with other desserts and cold snacks. Products with similar features may be coming to the market at the same time, so a unique attribute that creates added value must be found for the product.
Time is an essential element when it comes to the market situation: consumer behaviour has trends you must be able to anticipate and assess with considerable foresight. Whether or not an idea is eligible for development cannot be evaluated if based on the current situation alone. Market surveys must also anticipate the future: the rate of growth in the market and apparent development trends.
For example, if a company providing sports services is planning on productising Roller-Zumba classes that combine roller skating and salsa music, the company must analyse the coming trends with regard to the success of roller skating and salsa. If the roller-skating trend seems to be on the decline, what are the conditions that need to be met for the new product to be involved in creating a new trend? If the product idea is riding on a particular trend, you must also be prepared for a downward turn.
Innovation supported by knowledge of the competitive environment
When product ideas are being screened and selected for product development, market surveys are one of the most important areas of strategic planning. Knowledge of the target customers and competing products will provide guidance towards ideas and product features that are competitive and have a niche in the market.
If a company regularly follows Finnish trademark and patent databases, for example, it can use them to determine the varieties of product development that are underway in the field or with regard to products and technologies that compete with its own products. Keeping up-to-date with information regarding competitors can help to avoid overlapping product development as well as identify the gaps in demand that products can be profiled to fill.
Market surveys can constitute competitor monitoring that analyses the operations and products of competitors, the trends in the field, or the development of the technology utilised. Market surveys can also focus on customer segments: the purchasing behaviour and attitude towards ice cream among urban-resident career women and children from rural areas are bound to differ significantly. A suitable customer group with sufficient potential must also be found for a product idea.
In addition, a regional perspective should often be included in market surveys: the market and competitive environment for a product can be very different in an urban environment, such as Espoo, and a rural area, such as Pudasjärvi. Particularly when considering the suitability of a product idea for the international market, the related background work must be performed with care.
Selecting the target country