Assignment #6: Idea Evaluation


This week's assignment involved further analyzing our "top 10" best product ideas from last week's post. Using the lecture notes from last lecture, we were to look at the marketability, novelty and feasibility of these ideas.

I started by including a list of the top 10 products for reference below. I chose to include a bit more of a description of each would be used in the survey I put together (more on that in a bit).

Top 10 Product Ideas

1. Cinch Scarf: a scarf with a built-in cinch capability to shrink it in size when not in use.
2. Scarf Blanket: a system of attachable scarves that can be easily pieced together and have a dual use as a blanket when they would otherwise be sitting storage.
3. Scarf/Jacket Attachment: a scarf and jacket design that allows the two pieces to be easily attached to prevent separate storage needs, losing a piece, etc.
4. Beer Scarf: a scarf that includes a bottle opener and a coozie pouch for tailgating and other outdoor activities/entertainment.
5. Built-in Phone Scarf: a scarf that has built-in capability to allow talking into the scarf instead of a cell phone speaker. This allows the user to talk hands-free in cold outdoor environments.
6. Electric Scarf: a scarf that provides an interior heat pad to be charged electrically and allow a long period of heat release for the user.
7. Scarf Tree: a specifically designed coat rack for holding multiple scarves.
8. iScarf: a scarf with a built-in iPod or iPhone pouch and earphones to allow a user to use these electronics hands-free while keeping warm in cold environments.
9. Heat Absorbing Scarf: a scarf that is made of a specialized material that absorbs body heat that can then be re-radiated back to the user over a longer period of time.
10. Massager Scarf: a scarf that includes a built-in electric massager pad for added comfort and relaxation when in use.


I began by polling 15 people on these ideas by creating a survey and sending it out to a number of classmates and friends. I used the UMN affiliated survey website Qualtrics to conduct this questionnaire. A few screenshots of the survey is shown below:



I took the results and determined which of the top 10 ideas were the most popular. Next, I down-selected to the top 5 ideas for further analysis. The results were as follows (in no particular order):

1. Scarf Blanket System
2. Scarf Jacket Attachment
3. Beer Scarf
4. Electric Scarf
5. Heat Absorbing Scarf

An example of a survey result report is shown below:



Part two of this assignment involved benchmarking the top 5 ideas from part one. For each idea, I searched he internet for products that already existed, or else were similar in nature. I graphed these ideas on five 2x2 charts to begin to visualize the current state of the art, as well as determine any areas where there might be room for a new product. The results are shown below.

Idea 1: Scarf Blanket System

Although there weren't any exact products like this idea (that I could find), there were some similar products that I decided to include on my 2x2. These are DIY projects where people have permanently stitched together old scarves to make a blanket, as well as scarves that are big enough to double as a blanket.


Idea 2: Scarf-Jacket Attachment

Again, I didn't find many products in this space that accomplished what the idea intends to: to provide users with a system or way of attaching their scarf to their jacket. The products I did find were primarily jackets with a built-in or attached scarf or face mask.


Idea 3: Beer Scarf

Again, this was a hard product to find similarities to (I'm sensing a pattern here...). I found beer-related scarves that people wear to represent their favorite teams, as well as beer koozies made out of scarf/knit material. The most similar product I found in this category was a scarf with built-in pockets that could possibly double as koozies for cans or bottles. However, no products that I found included a beer bottle opener. It was clear from this analysis that there could be a real market here for this product in the area of "expensive" and "highly functional". Additional thoughts I had would be this market could be widened even more by providing the product in a number of different sports teams' names, colors, mascots, etc.


Idea 4: Electric Scarf

This idea resulted in almost no current products on the market. The only one I could find was a product from China that was electric in that it warmed the user while allowing them to charge/use an iPod or other electric device (which combines a few of my other initial ideas into one). Honestly I was pretty surprised by this -- there are so many electric blankets out there, but no electric scarves? Granted, electric blankets remain plugged in when being used, where as an electric scarf would need to be wireless. This tells me that maybe the technology is too difficult to achieve.


Idea 5: Heat Absorbing Scarf

This category of products resulted in the most interesting similar products. For this chart, I found a ClimaWare product that allows active hikers/outdoorsmen to either heat or cool their neck using battery operated pods located within the scarf. Similarly, I found a cooling-only product on the Chinese market that helps prevent heat stroke by keeping the back of the user's neck cool during hot weather. I figured this technology could possibly be reversed to heat instead, like in the ClimaWare product. Finally, I found an air-activated heating pad that equestrians use when riding in cold weather. This reminded me of those small hand-sized pads that you break to release the chemicals to allow the heat reaction to occur and keep your hands warm. I figured this could be a technology that might be able to be incorporated in a scarf setting.


Next, we were asked to conduct a preliminary patent search on these products ideas. I decided to include a link to a similar product patent below each idea if I could find one, otherwise I noted I couldn't and left it blank.

Idea 1: Scarf Blanket System

"Textile Products" Patent: a patent for a product that claims to use four sides and an upper and lower surface to provide more surface area. The claim says it can be used as either a scarf or as a blanket.

Idea 2: Scarf-Jacket Attachment

I found two different patents for this idea.

"Decorative Embellishment for Clothing" Patent: a patent that allows decorative embellishments (including scarves) to be attached to articles of clothing.

"Article of Clothing" Patent: a patent for a scarf-like product that has a means of attaching itself to the user in order to hang a certain way.

Idea 3: Beer Scarf

I wasn't able to find any patents for products that would be similar to this idea. Not sure if that's a good or a bad thing...

Idea 4: Electric Scarf

"Heating System" Patent: a patent for a temperature sensor located within a textile-based product to regulate and heat the body when needed.

Idea 5: Heat Absorbing Scarf

"Magnetic Heating Blanket" Patent: a patent for a product that uses a conductor to create a magnetic field to heat a material.


Finally, the last part of this assignment involved assessing the feasibility of each of the top 5 product ideas. I did a basic analysis of the feasibility from a technology standpoint, as well as a very rough manufacturing cost analysis using the techniques from our last class lecture. I included a short description of each analysis for the ideas below.

Idea 1: Scarf Blanket System

For this product, the manufacturing costs would include the material for the scarf itself and the means by which it can be attached to other scarves. At first I pictured a zipper-type system that would allow easy attachment and detachment. So, I found out the price of cotton per square yard (estimate) from a fabric store, and the price of garment zipper systems per yard (estimate) also from a fabric store. A tricky part of this rough analysis is that the fabric for the scarves itself would vary widely depending on its design.

($6/yard fabric) + ($0.15/yard zipper x 2 sides) = $6.30 per scarf

Idea 2: Scarf-Jacket Attachment

This product idea was also a bit difficult to estimate. I did a basic analysis using the numbers from the scarf blanket idea since I had originally thought that the attachment mechanism could be achieved with zippers as well.

($6/yard fabric) + ($0.15/yard zipper) = $6.15 per scarf attachment

Idea 3: Beer Scarf

Again, this product would be a basic scarf but would include extra fabric for bottle holders/koozies as well as a small metal bottle opener sewn into the fabric. I did an analysis using the values for a basic scarf above, and then estimated the cost of including extra fabric and a small steel opener (approximated at 1/8 lb).

($6/yard fabric) + ($6 x 1/3 yard extra fabric) + ($0.40 x 1/8 lb) = $8.05 per scarf

Idea 4: Electric Scarf

The analysis for the next two products was difficult because without further research into the technology, it's not possible to know exactly what types of materials are required for each to be manufactured. I used the retail price of an electric blanket, determined an approximate manufacture cost, and halved it because it would probably include about half of the material.

($50 retail price) / 10 (material cost ratio) / 2 (halved) = $2.50 per scarf

Idea 5: Heat Absorbing Scarf

Again, this analysis was difficult because without further research into the technology that this product would use, it's not easily possible to know what types of materials are required for each. What I decided to do here for the time being was to, again, take the price of the heat absorbing equestrian product I found and adjust to find the material cost.

($20 retail price) / 10 (material cost ratio) = $2.00 per scarf

Note: especially for the last two products, I would ideally like to determine a more accurate way of estimating manufacturing costs. This would require much more investigation that I felt was out of the scope of this assignment.


Hey Marin!

Your blog looks very near and orderly! I wanted to break down my review per section (Marketable, novel, feasible)

Pros: I found it to be very helpful that you included/summarized your top 10 ideas you were working with in the beginning of the post. This gave me a quick heads up on your sub theme and all your product ideas. I also like the simplicity of your survey. You got down straight to the point and asked the two important questions.
Improvement: I think that you could explain how you ruled out the top 5. Maybe put a summary table and draw your conclusions from that?

Pros: MOST of the 2x2 matrices. Your presentation of the patents with links to each (very nice and straight to the point).
Improvements: I think you could fill out 'Electric Scarf" 2x2 with more products. You could try to venture out to electric outerwear instead of just scarfs. If you found other electric cloth items, then maybe the technology IS achievable.

Pros: All your prices came out to be very low (which is good I think). And your price estimation is interesting...
Improvements: Maybe if you used an industry standard for price/pound instead of fabric store prices? That might help to get a more accurate estimation.

Hey Marin,

I appreciated the clear organization and attention to detail of your blog. It was nice that you reiterated your topic and 10 product ideas at the beginning to introduce your market research. Your questionnaire ranking system was very clever and easy for you to collect trends on the "Top 5" to move forward with. I missed the part where you asked people if they would be willing to buy the product and how much they would pay for it. While your ranking system helped you narrow down your best ideas, it still didn't help with analyzing prices and demand. You provided a great variety of products in your matrices except for the "Electric Scarf" idea. Perhaps you could have researched different electric apparel or accessories, such as earmuffs or blankets to compare to. I noticed that the assignment requirements of key features and prices were missing from the visuals as well. In the patents section, you could have looked up a patent for a bottle opening device for the Beer Scarf that you could not relate anything to. For calculating the cost in the Feasibility section, I think you could have researched this further to include costs by material for the various additions/technology within each scarf. For example, what would be the cost of metal for the bottle openers in the Beer Scarf? This would have given you closer estimations to the actual manufacturing cost. Overall, great work!

Nice blog post.

Reasonably organized and easy to follow. Maybe for your 2 x 2's you could have extended your information a little more to measures beyond just a scarf and look at things that are similar or do similar things!

Maybe discuss a little more about your user and their goals for using a product such as these.

Good ideas! Very extensive! Good luck choosing just one to focus on!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Marin Blair published on December 1, 2013 8:47 PM.

Assignment #5: Structured Idea Generation was the previous entry in this blog.

Assignment #7: Idea Selection & Pitch is the next entry in this blog.

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