Guest Blog - Design for Product Success

It is our pleasure to introduce you to Steve Copeland at Humanscope. 

Steve is an award-winning industrial designer and entrepreneur, with 30 years of experience designing and managing the development of innovative new products for his clients. He is the founder of Humanscope, and a “hands-on guy” who has worked closely with Havlar from the beginning to design, develop and bring the HavlarGo-SafeTM to market.

We asked Steve if he would put together a few thoughts on “what makes a new product successful” and “what product design pit falls await their client inventors, start-ups and entrepreneurs”.

Our heartfelt thanks to Steve for putting the following together.


At Humanscope, we are often asked by our customers “Do you think this product is a good idea?”

There are many factors that will contribute to the success of a product idea, so my reply leads to many questions back to them.

The top reasons products are successful:
  • Market acceptance – customers need or want it
  • Technical achievement – it works and can be made at a price that is profitable
  • Comprehensive marketing effort – its benefits have been communicated convincingly
  • Good timing – the product gets to market before a competitor, while the need still exists
Market Acceptance

When I was the Design Supervisor at Cooper Sports, we were fortunate enough to have Dr. Robert Cooper present his research of hundreds of successful product launches. He listed the key factors that correlate statistically with product success. The list has not changed much in thirty years:

  • Does the product offer unique features not available on competitive products?
  • Does the product meet customer needs better than competitive products?
  • Does the product have a higher relative product quality?
  • Does the product solve a problem the customer had with a competitive product?
  • Does the product reduce the customer’s total costs (creating value)?
  • Is the product the first of its kind in the market?

Before Humanscope can begin to develop your product idea, we need to understand who the customer is and what are their needs and wants. It is crucial to learn about your customer to understand and empathize with them. Doing solid research before we design anything allows us to move quickly to develop a product with lasting value.

Technical Achievement

We often need to help our client define their strategic business objectives for product design, manufacturing and marketing.

  • Do they want to manufacture and sell this product or license it?
  • How much will the customer pay for this product?
  • Is this product market demand growing?
  • How will the product be sold?
  • How many products will sell in a year?
  • Can the product be made for a price that will allow profit for all stakeholders?
  • Can the product be made to function reliably with good quality?
  • How will you fund the development, manufacturing and marketing of this product?

Comprehensive Marketing Effort and Good Timing

I always advise our clients to have a minimum one-page outline of a business plan that includes:

  • Who is your customer? The more you know and understand them, the better
  • Who is your competition? The more you know their product offering, the better
  • Where and how will this be sold? Will it be sold online, at retail or will you go door to door?
  • How will people know that your product exists? What is your marketing plan?

Understanding your competition will help with timing of your product launch. Is there a big trade show or a season that your product needs to be available for in the store? Marketing is one of the key aspects of a successful product. We can design a beautiful product that meets all the needs and wants of a customer and has amazing benefits that they have been looking for, but this is of no use if no one knows where to buy it. Again, having a full understanding of your customer will help you determine how to spend your marketing efforts. Knowing how and where they shop, what other products they buy and why, will influence where you advertise and where you sell. All this information will help us create a successful product for you.

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