In the previous weeks, we went over Business Banking & Incorporation – where we explored different strategies on how to legally and financially enhance your business. As a way to start 2017, today’s blog post will be focusing on Product Innovation.
The ultimate goal for any business is to be sustainable in the long term. To achieve this, you need to have a Unique Selling Point(USP) that differentiates your business from the competition. This mini guide and case study is meant to get you to think outside the box in terms of product selection and launch cool & innovative products.
In terms of Private Label products, sellers normally follow one of these options:
- General items with unique logo and packaging.
- Completely unique product.
- Improvement over existing products.
Importing general items used to be profitable, but it’s not sustainable in the long term! When choosing products, you need to think from the Amazon customers’ point of view. How would you feel(as a customer), if you’re searching for a particular product, and find something like this:
This is a very bad approach as the only way to differentiate between each product is:
Price is the most obvious one, so more often than not, it becomes a race to the bottom. This is not what we want as a brand. By creating something that the market wants & improving upon it, you will have control over your brand. This is also an asset if you plan on selling to retailers in the future – Retailers love unique, branded and in demand products!
Today’s case study involves picking an existing product and completely breaking down each aspect of it and try to improve it.
Note: This is only an example and the strategy should be applied for your product of choice.
For this case study I picked an Interactive Dog Toy Ball. Let’s have a quick overview of the product.
- Number 1 Best Seller in Dog Toy Balls
- 4,432 reviews
- 2 Variations
- Multiple Colors
Based on the initial data, these numbers may seem prohibitive, however:
- Multiple reviews indicate the product is popular
- Variations show demand for different sizes and colours
All that needs to be done is analysing the product carefully and see if we can improve it. So let’s go ahead with our product analysis.
Surprisingly, the listing for this product is very lacking. As seen in the above image I have pointed out the 3 main features I find lacking:
- Poor Images & Very Bland – A product with this popularity/demand should have higher quality pictures.
- Bullet Points – The bullet points are too short and don’t describe the product features in detail.
- Listing Title – This, in my opinion, is the most lacking part. The title is not Keyword Optimized and they have the words “Colors May Vary”. As a customer viewing the listing, the question I ask is: What colors are available for this product? Which color will I receive??
The seller has Enhanced Brand Content/A+ Content, however, they are not taking full advantage of it. The description is short and the pictures show only the packaging instead of highlighting the product’s features. Furthermore, they included a picture of another of their products!
The description should be a keyword rich, informative section where you provide features and details to the customer.
Moving on with the product analysis, it’s time to check the reviews – The item is a best seller after all! Reviews of customers are extremely important, more so after the Amazon Review change where all the giveaway reviews have been removed. Let’s see what the reviews tell us about the product:
The most notable aspect is that 24% of 4,430 reviews(1063 reviews) are 3 stars or lower. This already shows me that the product can be improved upon, but let’s look at the positive reviews first.
Looking at some of the positive reviews, I picked up these features customer like:
- Fun Toy and most dogs love it.
- Adjustable difficulty of the item makes it accessible to any dog.
- A lot of the reviews suggest customers bought 1 or more. This is a very good sign.
- The product makes their dog exercise more.
Positive reviews are an important aspect, as they tell you what customers LOVE about the product. If you are innovating or improving an existing product, you have to know what customers like about your competitors.
Looking at the negative reviews throughout the listing, I have noticed a common theme:
- Cheap material – most dogs break it easily.
- Dangerous – Some dogs have risked choking because it comes apart easily.
- Boring – some dogs found the toy to be boring, this suggests that the toy is only ideal for particular breeds.
- Functionality – Some customers found that the treats don’t come out properly.
When looking at negative reviews, focus on a common theme – if many customers complain about a particular feature, this can be improved!
After focusing on the listing, it’s time to search if there’s demand outside of Amazon USA. Remember, the goal is to build a lasting and global brand, so you need to expand your research further. I will look at this particular product and see how it performs:
When launching a product, it’s easy to only focus on that particular product. However, the goal is to see if there’s demand in the category. I made a Google Trends search for the keywords “Dog Treat Toys” and “Dog Toy Balls” to see if there’s any demand throughout the year for this product.
As seen above, the demand for the product is fairly steady all year round with some months experiencing high demand. This is good news as it shows that this product is not seasonal and their is interest in this niche.
The idea is always to first launch a new product in the US market(higher demand) and expand into other countries. As you can see below, I have made a search for this product in the Spanish, UK, France, Germany, Italian & Japanese Amazon marketplaces. Although this product is listed in all marketplaces – not a single review can be found. This can mean:
- No demand for the product outside the US – Highly unlikely considering the category(Pet Supplies).
- The seller main focus is only the US, so releasing a better product in the other marketplaces would give you an advantage.
Based on the initial analysis, my conclusions are:
- Quality is an issue – We can make a better product.
- Material is low-quality hard plastic and therefore we can improve the material quality or use a different material.
- Certifications – No certifications are mentioned in the listing, by obtaining certifications we can make the product better.
- Photos – Higher quality photos.
- Listing – Better product descriptions & bullet points.
- Variations – Include colors in the listing & offer 2-3 colors.
- Packaging – With some effort we can make a better packaging.
- The product is extremely popular and therefore hard to get the #1 spot.
- Large amount of reviews – However, 24% are 3 star or lower, so a better product can outperform it.
Warning: If going this route, it is extremely important to check if any products you take inspiration from don’t have a patent associated with them. The idea is to have a brand with unique products – So be unique!
Once you have made significant research about a particular product. You need to make any improvements come to life. The way to do this is by either:
- Hiring a product designer to design a completely new product based on the feedback you give them.
- Sourcing a factory that produces similar products and see if they can make the requested changes.
I recommend hiring a product designer as they can completely experiment with different designs and you would get a unique product for your brand. When you’re happy with the result, you pass on the design to the chosen factory and a mold + sample is made.
A Note About Product Research
We are all familiar with product research tools such as Jungle Scout or Unicorn Smasher. While these tools are great, they shouldn’t be used to exactly tell you which products you pick, BUT to discover hidden gems within the marketplace & monitor sales volume. The best way to truly build a lasting brand is to:
- Build a brand around a category/niche you’re passionate about. If you have a strong passion/interest towards a particular niche, you know what the market wants.
- If you already have a product in a category, focus on building a list & interact with potential customers via social media. Once you build trust with your customer base, they will often tell you what products they love/want.
- Release products which are both unique and better than the competition.
Once you release a new product on the market it’s best to release other products related to the brand. This is done to:
- Cover many sub-niches in one category.
- Show expertise in your niche
- Build trust with your target market(if you consistently release great and innovative products)
Good places to look for new products related to your item are:
“Frequently Bought Together” section
As you can see with our product from the case study, Amazon is already showing you an item that is frequently bought by customers.
“Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section
Same as above, Amazon gives you all the data you need to make your research easier for your next products.
“Sponsored Products Related To This Item” section
This is very important as it shows PPC activity surrounding a category. If other sellers are spending money promoting their products, then, there is interest in the market. As you can see below, Amazon is showing a lot of products.
Magazines(both online and offline) are a good source of inspiration. These publications only cater to an audience actively interested in the category so they can greatly help you. Understanding the market and your potential customers will help you gain authority within your niche.
Forums are a great source because audiences discuss topics related to a particular niche. Which is very helpful because:
- You can get inspiration for blog posts
- You can segment your audience( Gender – Age – Household Income etc)
- Advertising – Forums have advertising sections, see what type of brands and products are advertised and do your research on that.
Tradeshows & Exhibitions
This is by far the best way to source new products. Trade shows are a great way to see trending & upcoming products and find potential suppliers. Manuel will talk about this in more detail as he has a lot of experience in this field.
Reminder: Always do your research before investing time and money into a product – Your customers and business will thank you later!
I hope this mini case study was helpful and hopefully it can serve as an inspiration for new products in 2017. Moving forward, the next blog posts will be written both by Manuel & myself and will focus on Sourcing, Manufacturing & Certifications. These topics have been widely covered by Manuel, however, we have some great information on how to apply them to build a brand.
We hope you had a great holiday season and both myself & Manuel wish you a Happy New Year! If you have any questions regarding this blog post, kindly leave a comment below.
All the best & happy selling,