Concept Development Process
Product Design Concept & Application
Identifying Customer Needs
Krates Ng From Product Design & Development 4th Ed. Ulrich and Eppinger
Our Goals Five steps process
• Ensure that the product is focused on customer needs. • Gather raw data from customers.
• Identify hidden needs as well as explicit needs.
• Interpret the raw data in terms of customer
• Provide a fact base for justifying the product
• Create an archival record of the needs activity of the • Organize the needs into a hierarchy of
development process. primary, secondary and tertiary (if necessary)
• Ensure that no critical customer need is missed.
• Develop a common understanding of customer needs
among members of the development team. • Establish the relative importance of the needs.
• Reflect on the results and the process.
Example: cordless screwdriver Design Brief: Screwdriver Project
Product description •A hand-held, power-assisted device for installing threaded fasteners
Benefit Proposition •Drive screws more quickly and with less effort than by hand
Key business goals •Product introduced in 4th quarter of 2006
•50% gross margin
•10% share of cordless screwdriver market by 2008
Primary Market •DIY consumer
Secondary Market •Casual consumer
•Nickel-meta-hydride rechargeable battery technology
5 •Legal department 6
1) Gather raw data from customers
• Focus groups
– A moderator facilities with a two-hour discussion
with a group of 8 – 12 customers.
– Special room equipped with a 2-way mirror
allowing development team to observe.
• Observing the product in use
– Surveys not recommended.
Choosing Customers Sample questions
• How many interviews? • When and why do you use this type of
– 10 – 50 interviews for one market segment product?
– Lead users • Walk us through a typical session using the
• Articulate their emerging needs product.
• May already invented solutions to meet their needs • What do you like about the existing products?
– Extreme users • What issues do you consider when purchasing
• Professional users the product?
• Users with slight disability • What improvements would you make to the
Effective customers interactions Documenting interactions
• Go with the flow. • Audio recording
• Use visual stimuli and props. • Notes
• Suppress preconceived hypotheses about the
product technology. • Video recording
• Have the customer demonstrate the product and • Photography
typical tasks related to the product.
• Be alert for surprises and the expression of latent
• Watch for nonverbal information.
Result: sample data template 2) Interpret Raw Data
• Express the need in terms of what the product
has to do, not in terms of how it might do.
• Express the need as specifically as the raw
• Use positive, not negative, phrasing.
• Express the need as an attribute of the
• Avoid the words “must” and “should”.
From Product Design & Development 4th Ed. Ulrich and Eppinger 13 14
Needs statement example
Organize the needs into a hierarchy
• Print or write each need statement on a separate
card or post-it note.
• Eliminate redundant statements.
• Group the cards according to the similarity of the
needs they express.
• For each group, choose a label.
• Consider creating supergroups consisting of two
to five groups.
• Review and edit the organized needs statements.
From Product Design & Development 4th Ed. Ulrich and Eppinger
4) Establish the relative importance of
• Rely on the consensus of the team members
based on their experience with customers.
• Base the importance assessment on further
From Product Design & Development 4th Ed. Ulrich and Eppinger 17 18
A sample survey 5) Reflect on the results and the process
• Have we interacted with all of the important types of customers in
our target market?
• Are we able to see beyond needs related only to existing products
in order to capture the latent needs of our target customers?
• Are there areas of inquiry we should pursue in follow-up interviews
• Which of the customers we spoke to would be good participants in
our ongoing development efforts.
• What do we know now that we didn’t know when we started? Are
we surprised by any of the needs?
• Did we involve everyone within our own organization who needs to
deeply understand customer needs?
From Product Design & Development 4th Ed. Ulrich and Eppinger • How might we improve the process in future efforts?