In this exciting installment of Product Design with Cody Johnson, you will learn about Idea Evaluations! Evaluating ideas by polling potential buyers is valuable to designers because it provides as close to real-world market data as possible to determine if a potential product is feasible to market, and what that market would be.
To test my ten chosen ideas from the prior post, I created a photo album on Facebook and asked people to like the five ideas that they would be most likely to buy, and how much they would pay for them. While I received many "Likes," noone left comments as to how much they would be willing to pay for them, which was disappointing. The results of the poll are listed below, and for visual reference please scroll to the bottom of the prior blog entry to see the 10 chosen ideas.
Center Chain: 1
Add-On Treads: 1
Screw-On Traction Aid: 2
Non-Stick Paint: 4
Snowcone Maker: 1
Bicycle Tire Chains: 3
Serrated Links: 4
Snowmobile Carbides: 0
Paddles and Blades: 0
Based on my market survey, the top five ideas I will be focusing on are Non-Stick Paint, Serrated Links, Bicycle Tire Chains, Snowmobike, and the Screw-On Traction Aid.
The next step in the process is benchmarking. To "Benchmark" a product, existing products are researched and prices and key features are recorded.
The purpose behind the "Non-Stick Paint" would be to create a surface that resists buildup of not just snow, but ice, dirt, mud, and grime. There are a few products on the market that would accomplish this task, but they are temporary. these include various wax and oil based sprays and wipes that diminish in effectiveness shortly after being applied, depending on conditions. The closest existing product to the idea is a Teflon spray called "Clean Machine." It is designed to be sprayed onto lawnmowers and farm equipment to resist dirt buildup and is clear when applied. It is available in a 10 oz. spray can for about $14.
Ideally the "Non-Stick Paint" product would be a colored paint that would be applied commercially as a finish coat to automobiles, bicycles, and any other item that has a problem with buildup of debris. The main problem with executing this idea would be to find a substance that repels buildup of material, can be colored, and can be applied to a variety of metal and plastic surfaces.
The serrated links was as popular of an idea as the Non-Stick Paint. This products purpose is to increase traction of vehicles that already use snowchains in winter by utilizing a serrated or spiked chain link, instead of the standard smooth chains and cables. this would allow the chain to grip icy surfaces better as it could actually penetrate the surface of the ice layer. The closest existing products are snowchains and cables that range from $29.99 - $139.99. These traction aids are available in a wide variety of configurations and materials. Some of the pricier sets are available with carbide studs.
The main difficulty in creating the Serrated Links product would be to make a set of traction aids that are at a lower price that more people could afford, about $40 for a set of 2, and to create a solid chain link with serrated edges that wouldn't wear out the tire prematurely.
Bicycle Tire Chains
Bicycle Tire Chains would be a product that is basically a snow chain that can be installed on bicycle wheels for greater traction. There are currently very few of these on the market, but there are plenty of DIY tutorial sites that guide readers to making their own set from simple parts from a hardware store. The best currently on the market is a product called Slipnot. They are currently available in a range of sizes and are priced from $84.99 - $104.99.
Slipnot Traction Aid
The main complication with this product, both from research and personal experience, is that the chain system is made of low quality materials, detaches from the wheel while pedaling, and drastically increases the rolling resistance of the wheel. I think it would be easy to create a traction system that costs less than the Slipnot, as it is basically the same as a low quality automotive traction aid for a much higher price.
The idea behind the snowmobike is to create a machine that uses a pedaling system, like a bicycle, to power a track system similar to a snowmobile. The machine would be set up much like a tricycle to aid in stability and allow for cargo capacity. It would be primarily for running errands and commuting during winter months in areas of heavy snowfall. There is currently one product similar to this on the market. It is a KTRAK conversion kit. It is available for $450 dollars and is a kit to convert the rear wheel of a bicycle into a track and install a ski for a front wheel. This kit was originally intended to be used on downhill ski slopes in winter.
KTRAK Conversion Kit
The main difficulties with the "Snowmobike" product would be to create a track system that is easily maintainable and does not create too much rolling resistance to pedal. While the KTRAK is a conversion kit, the Snowmobike would be sold as a complete bicycle and would most likely be sold around $3000. It would replace an individuals need for a car in the winter, and the price point is similar to Fat Bikes currently on the market that people are currently buying to commute in deep snow.
Screw-On Traction Aid
The Screw-On Traction Aid would be a product that could be attached to the existing wheel of a vehicle, covering the existing traction surface. This would allow any consumer to easily instal the product, as the existing wheel would not need to be removed. The closest thing to this idea currently on the market is the Spikes Spider, which is available for $565. It is installed using the lug nuts that hold on the wheel. the product is installed by removing the lug nuts and placing the product over the bolts. the lug nuts are then replaced, sandwiching the product between the wheel and the nuts and securing it firmly to the vehicle.
The main difficulty in creating this product would be to accommodate for tire clearances in the wheel well of the vehicle, and to ensure that the product does not interfere with the operation of the vehicle. Using similar materials and securing methods, I think this product could be manufactured and marketed at a price between $400 and $700. Consumers would be willing to pay this price as the traction aid would allow them to retain their current tires, instead of buying a new set for winter. it would also be very durable and able to last multiple driving seasons, outlasting a standard set of winter tires.