Need Your Design Expertise

I am a marketing student doing a research project and need to learn what are the top 5 challenges facing industrial designers today (i.e. getting your product to sell, design techniques that the competition doesn’t know about)?

Also, how and what are the importance of colors and finishes for the products you design?

Thanks everyone for your help.

Dealing with inept Marketing Groups.

I concur.

I do not intend to come off as insulting you or your future profession, but I have to agree with ip on this one.

Biggest hindrance in the process always fall on marketing. Whether they are egotistical sobs who feel they know more than anyone else including their customers who are demanding the exact opposite…or they are so cautious and unable to make a decision that they want to have a multi-session multi-city focus group for every down-select or review, and then still do not know what to do.

So here is my list

  1. Marketing overzealous, “I know what the customers want even before they do”

  2. Marketing focused on Wal-Mart…There are better ways to gain market share, brand loyalty, and more importantly brand equity than simply cutting costs and quality.

2a. Marketing feeling that they can skimp on the usability, and “feel” of the product to save a few pennies.

  1. Clients who as a whole are to focused on “the way we have always done it” that they over look and then pass up truly innovative concepts and features that have potential to change the market category…then when their competitor comes out with it they come scrambling back asking to have that reincorporated into the product.

  2. Internal Politics within the client company.

  3. Companies still not embracing the Green Movement…instead focusing on Green-Washing their consumers…one again usually leads back to marketing. Rather say it is green and make the minimal change required such as move to bio-plastics which in landfill conditions still do not breakdown because they have to have composting conditions to breakdown.

As for the color, textures, surface finishes, consideration for mold flow issues (weld lines, sinks, parting line placement, gateing, etc.), fit tollerences, and overall material choice…This can make or break a product.

When properly done handled a medical device (main focus of professional practice) can enstill confidence and a sence of quality in the surgeons, and purchasing represenatives.

When poorly done a product that is clinically proven to be vastly superior to the competition can end up looking, feeling, and being percived as toyish, cheap, and most importanly imprecise.

This has been proven to about a half dozen marketing VPs who have made an initial release in IMac candies and Gloss Black and Chrome…only to have sales fall flat.

A few that come to mind:

  1. Industrial Design is loosing its relevancy in a post-industrial world. Design is fragmenting into new specialties (a good thing.)

  2. “Design” as we’ve known it is commodifying. Professional designers are loosing their value as more people are enabled to learn and do design (CAD+Internet.) Design is rapidly evolving in many ways to make this point irrelevant.

  3. Mass production is loosing it’s appeal with the green movement and mass-customization. Another good thing that challenges the very notion of “Industrial” design.

  4. Marketing (actually it’s senior management who enables marketing to “own the customer.”) This is a generational thing.

  5. Risk of overhype & backlash.

    You asked for challenges, but realize that design has never been more relevant. Its a great time to become a designer: the world needs more of it.

My biggest frustration as an in house package designer is when marketing has already made up their mind on what the package is going to be and started talking to supplier. This is especial frustrating when the don’t come to us first because the printer or manufacture thinks that they are going to get one thing and we end up giving them another. Or better yet the go around us and then further down the road we have to clean up there mess.

Just my 2 cents.

hehe…mibs…I bet you didn’t think you were walking into a lions den carrying a steak…did you?

Hahaha… like Yosemite Sam chasing Bugs through the basement of the Roman Coliseum. I’m dying here laughing!

Great analogy IP!

hey, man, dont let us scare you away, marketing is a necessary part of model, let me see if can spell it out for you from my perspective:

My top 5 challenges:

  1. designing for the general public - appealing to the masses - vanilla - beige - boring. I’ts challenging to produce something beautiful thats got mass appeal.
  2. Marketers - in general too many typical problems \ conflicts to list.
  3. designing within budgetary constraints - (forces compromises which are tough when sopmething is going to have your name on it)
  4. creating something truly new and usefull that won’t endup in the landfill that people will use and enjoy - a positive experience.
  5. Engineers - also many types of conflicts with engineering… i.ders typically cause problems for engineers to solve, theres compromises that happen here too. it’s the physical\mechanical constraints etc…

re, color and finish - how they’re important? well they glean their importance from the emotional responses of the consumer. it’s a psycholigical thing.
colors and textures have associated memories and responses in an individual. these responses are unique to each person, but can be generalized and put to very good use.

hope that helps and i hope you go on to be one of those marketers who is a pleasure to work with.

Maybe you can answer your own question about the importance of finishes and materials etc. Look around your home/dorm/parents home and ask yourself the same question. If all you find are the most plain jane materials and finishes and you dont care what something looks like as long as it works and cannot understand why anyone would feel differently, you are in the wrong field and need to look at schools with engineering programs.

The color/finish question is “in the weeds” compared to the bigger question of ID obstacles.

Color is about:

Branding: connecting with your customer & differentiating
Culture & Context: (a red product in a hospital has meaning)

This week there was a lot of press about T-mobile trademarking magenta.
There are very few colors left that aren’t “owned” by a brand.

Red = Coke, Levis
White = Apple
Yellow = Kodak, DeWalt
Blue = American Express
Green = BP
Orange = Cingular (back up for grabs!) Black & Decker
Purple = FedEx
Brown = UPS

Finish is more related to perceived quality. It can be visceral: I need to touch this thing! Frequently it’s reflective: I love to touch this thing! In both cases, it can create a powerful bond with the consumer. OXO good grips is perhaps the most famous example.

Heft and balance is a another dimension of “perceived quality” that designers are beginning to recognize adds value. Think of a high quality kitchen knife, or a mobile phone.

this thread delivers.

i lol’d.

Another challenge is dealing with pushing progression and innovation in design while dealing with business constraints, i.e. the time and money needed to do market research to deliver a product with the end user in mind V.S. not having that time/money and “just design” -ing the next simple evolution of the product.

The “business” end wants the next big thing, but rarely puts the time and money into a project. Some of the time, in certain industries there just isn’t enough time to do a in depth analysis of what the consumer/market wants/needs.

my 2 cents

note I got my first degree in Marketing before switching over to the dark side: I.D.

I have a real simple graphic I am developing that shows how little money and time research costs when put side by side with Design, Development, Manufcaturing and Inventory. It also includes anice Risk Curve for added drama.

It shows what an absolutely risky thing it is, from a business point of view to not do research.

Still cleaning it up at the moment.

Timf: The more experience I get, the more I see that R&D is cheaper than people think. Whenever I mention going the extra mile on projects, people tell me, “oh we don’t have months to do that” or “we don’t have the budget”, but in reality the research needed would take days and cost next to nothing. Now…whether anyone will bother understanding the research is another thing.

Whenever I mention going the extra mile on projects, people tell me, “oh we don’t have months to do that” or “we don’t have the budget”, but in reality the research needed would take days and cost next to nothing. Now…whether anyone will bother understanding the research is another thing.

Its even funnier when those exact comments come from Pharma companies mouths! 5+ years on research and testing of the drug it self…but only 3 months to develop the “Ideal” delivery system! An exaggeration but close to reality.