Using Initial Conversations with Your Consultancy to Explore Market Opportunity

Your product design journey will start before any official kick-off. The very first call you have with your potential product design consultancy will be an exciting moment. It could be the first time you actually share your idea or explain the story of where that idea first began. Or, you may have an established business already and have started product development by the time you reach out to new partners. Your design project will technically start when the first phase begins (this could be foresight, concept or another). However, this formal kick-off often comes after several discussions, the creation of a proposal and possibly further conversation after that. By this point, your product design journey is well and truly under way already – or at least it could be … If you’ve seized your opportunity early on, you’ll have created extraordinary momentum with which all parties can begin development.

Being Productive with Your Time While Choosing a Product Design Consultancy 

New product development requires ambition and significant investment (often financially and time-wise). It makes sense then that choosing who to work with won’t happen overnight, all important decisions take time to reach. But, while you’re busy measuring how well a product design consultancy fits with you and your needs – which will involve many factors such as their technical capability, price and your own gut-instinct – this time is invaluable and you can make a lot of progress very quickly. The initial calls you have with your potential product design consultancy will give you a preview of the full experience you’re on the verge of committing to. Yet, between the gut-feeling and logistical decisions about whether to work with a consultancy, there’s another missing piece that many don’t realise exists. This consideration is how well, how deeply and how widely a product design consultancy engages and challenges you in discussions surrounding your product.

What Can You Really Learn Through These Moments? 

The best way to approach your initial discussions with a product design consultancy is to see these meetings as a chance to think big before you think small. After the formal kick-off of your design project, your design engineers will waste no time before delving deep into the technical requirements of your product. Before that happens, ensure you’ve fully explored the market opportunity with your consultancy and that both partners understand where your product and business will sit in relation to this. Share your wider vision for your product and your business; these discussions should always remain very open but may cover:

  • The core idea in its most basic form
  • The target audience and their habits, preferences and motivations
  • The differentiating value of your product
  • The areas that pose the biggest challenges (risks and unknowns can seem a lot smaller when you’ve talked them through strategically)
  • Future iterations or possibilities for your product
  • Your own priorities for the product and brand

If you can explain these things, you are firmly on the path to being able to ultimately create a commercially-considered, market ready product. By exploring different options for, and versions of, your product in these first discussions, there’s less at stake. During the initial conversations you are in the wonderful stage where your product could take shape in a number of ways; capitalise upon this freedom to explore all of your ideas with the people who are best placed to give a justified response and opinion. The early conversations present a real opportunity to challenge any assumptions that your product could eventually be built on. This time, of throwing ideas at your prospective partners and exploring the “what ifs”, can be used not only to confirm whether they’re the right fit for you, but to discover and settle upon which approach will create the most promising future for your product.

ITERATE Client, Eyal Opher Shares His Experience of the Early Stages

Creating the Conditions for Project Success (and a More Rewarding Relationship with Your Product Design Consultancy)

New product developers are always taking risk in some form, risk comes naturally with the new. But if a product is being developed it means the Client and their product design partners believe these risks can be overcome. You can leverage your early conversations with a product design consultancy to really get to grips with possible design challenges. The result of this is that you and your product design partners can start development from a much more strategic spot. The most successful products and design projects start with clarity: clear purpose, clear goals and clear priorities. This makes a huge difference because through the product development process, numerous decisions will be put to you, often these decisions will be compromises (shorter battery life for a smaller form and more desirable aesthetic, for example). At these moments, if you’ve had productive conversations early on in the exploratory stages of your enquiry, you’ll have already thought deeply about what matters most to your business and your target user. This will support you and your design engineers to make informed choices that push the development in a direction that aligns with your wider vision. What’s more, with the clarity reached through these conversations, comes greater understanding and passion for the product.

Seizing This Opportunity 

Put simply, the first discussions you’ll have with a product design consultancy could be amazing. They present an early opportunity to garner honest feedback and guidance from an experienced design team. If nothing else, you have an opportunity to pick the brain of a design engineer and to challenge them too. While some consultancies charge for this time, many don’t. And ultimately, whether you’re paying a premium for the time or not, the opportunity remains the same and recognising this will give you great purpose when it comes to reaching out to a design consultancy.

During these discussions our team was recently asked the question:

“How much should we limit our thinking?”

Our answer: “You shouldn’t.”

When first hearing your idea, a design engineer will instinctively begin thinking about its technical feasibility: how it could be built, developed and manufactured. This is likely why you’re reaching out to them in the first place. With this in mind, these conversations are moments when you can, and should, ask your wildest questions and share your biggest ambition for what the product could do or be. The better these conversations are, the more confidently you’ll approach the experience, the more seamless the process, and the more successful the final result. All of this starts as early as possible.

What We’re Thinking…

If you’d like to know the kinds of considerations we’ll be thinking about in the early stages of new product development, contact us for our questionnaires designed to spark ideas and stimulate awareness of the market opportunity you might have. Or get in touch to talk more.



Contact: 01291 408283