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Hello once more!

In this post I will be assessing some of my ideas for marketability, novelty, and feasibility.

Marketability Survey

My Survey

So I tried reading the document about surveys but I still found making a survey overwhelming. I had trouble figuring out what were good questions to ask.

After my results came in I made a few observations:

I made the mistake of having an "Undecided" option in "How likely would you be to buy this...?" I found this was the option many people chose. I should have not had that option and forced people into a choice. Or even had a "undecided, but leaning towards yes" and "Undecided but leaning towards no" sort of thing.

I think asking for income range would also have been useful. Someone may not buy something because they have a low income, not because they don't want it or don't think it's a good idea. Some of the ideas had a lot of people think it was a good idea, but then say they were not likely to buy it. If not asking for income, I think I should have asked why people made the choices they did.

I also had a fill in the blank for "How much should this cost?" which was fine for the majority of people, but one person wrote comments like "I would never buy this" instead of answering the question. Some people left it blank. So I saw how free-response can backfire. I did get an interesting range of prices, which I appreciated.

I realized that every once in a while, one of my ideas was poorly understood, given some of the comments. I included sketches of all of my ideas to make them easier to understand, but that didn't always help.

Also, some people didn't finish filling out the survey, so while each question had at least 15 answers, some had 20 and others had 18. To choose the five best ideas, I decided to base it on the mean of the choices people gave me. I also decided to choose it based on how good they thought the ideas were. Since I didn't take enough demographic information or ask why, I don't know what comes into play.


In this blog post, I will present the top five ideas, show the state of the art, cite relevant patents, and assess the feasibility. I used for my price assessments.

Single serving flavor shots
Flavor Pods.jpg

The average price from my survey was $0.86/shot.

Since nothing exists quite like this product, I did a HIT matrix of the features to show there is a precedent.

Infusion beverage product comprising co-agglomerated creamer and sweetener suitable for bag and filter pack brewing
Stipp, US5554400 A, 1995
This patent consists of a single serving combined sweetener-creamer. This patent also covers how the sweetener-creamer would be added to the coffee, namely by immersing the sweetener-creamer into a hot beverage by use of an infusion bag.

Cost assessment:
For a pack of 50
Box: $0.20 per piece
High Fructose Corn Syrup $0.07 lb (use 1 lb)
Food grade plastic: 1.04 per lb (use 0.5 lb)

Raw material cost pack of 50: $0.478
Retail price: $4.78

Raw material cost for one shot: $0.00974 (seems too low)
Retail price for one shot: $0.10

Some of the difficulties with this product will be to find the best delivery system. Ideally, the flavor pod would be in some low-melting-point hard candy or jelly. However, small containers might more feasible. Also, formulating a high quality flavor would also be difficult, since it would have to compete with other well established brands.

Perfect temperature color change mug
color change.jpg

The average price response was $11.04.

Food Related Color Change technology
Of all these technologies, many exist which have a single change to indicate either heat or cold. There are more color change mugs than those I indicated. I could not find something that would be a Goldilocks indicator i.e. neither too hot nor too cold.

Coffee cup with temperature indication
Russo, US20020167989 A1, 2001
There is a patent application that is very relavent, particularly in using a theromochromic ink to indicate hot, warm, cold. This patent differs in that it describes a lid rather than a mug.

Temperature-indicating container
LaGuardia, LaGuardia Jr., US7798706 B2, 2010
This patent describes an insulated container for food and drink with color change indicating the temperature within the container.

Cost assessment:
Plain Mug: $0.70/per mug
Thermochromatic Paint: $147/lb (.01 lbs used)

Total manufacturing cost for one unit: $2.70
Retail price: $21.70

The most difficult part of this product is to differentiate it from many of the color change competitors. There are quite a few mugs that change color when heated. However, this mug is a two color system which shows users exactly when their drink is the perfect temperature. It's also a bit gimmicky, which would make it a frivolous purchase rather than a needed one.

The Heat-keep Lid
heat lid.jpg

The average price from my survey was $5.13

I could find one item which is exactly like mine. The Mug Hug claims to fit 60%-80% of mugs in one of their two sizes. The Mug Hug is difficult to find online and has limited distribution. There are also lids which keep drinks in but you can't sip from. There are many variations of them, mostly with some sort of cute top.

Multiple purpose gripping lid
Hayes, US 3606074 A, 1969
This patent describes a lid for cans. However, it's important to my idea in that the lid is adjustable for many can sizes.This is done through many rings on the sidewall of the lid, each ring decreasing in diameter.

Cost assessment:
Silicone: $1.36/lb (0.25 lbs needed)

Total manufacturing cost for one unit: $0.34
Retail price: $3.40

The most difficult part about this product is showing the added value. Plenty of full cover lids exist, while this one would allow you to drink out of it. Also, the Mug Hug seems to only be available among small retailers and difficult to find online. Many of the online shopping links listed on their website expired. So clearly they aren't thriving, and that might be an indicator that the product isn't desirable.

Click Heat Mug
sodium acetate.jpg

The average price for this mug from my survey was $15.4

Nothing exists similar to my Click Heat Sodium Acetate Mug. I made a HIT Matrix of the products that provide similar functions or contain an essential element, such as being double walled. I included solutions for keeping mugs warm as well as hand-warmers using the same principle or an electric heat.

Hot cup adapted to retain fluid contents heated for extended periods of time
Dorney, US6029651 A, 2000
This patent describes a dual walled cup wherein the inner cup is made of metal (thermally conductive) and the outer cup is made of a thermally isolating material. Between the two cups is a super saturated sodium acetate solution which is triggered by a flexing a metallic material, which causes an exothermic reaction.

Cost assessment:
Silicone: $1.36/lb (0.1 lbs needed)
Borosilicate Glass: $0.318/lb (0.51 lb needed)
Sodium Acetate: $0.452/lb (0.375 lb needed)
Steel: $0.85/lb (.06 lb needed)

Total manufacturing cost for one unit: $0.519
Retail price: $5.19

This product is the most technically difficult to execute and manufacture. To make the steel trigger work properly might be a challenge. The sodium acetate would also have to be leakproof. The cup would have to be dishwasher safe.The effectiveness of this heating method is also questionable and would need extensive testing to see if it would be feasible for warming up a liquid. The temperature of the reaction is 130F and the boiling point of water is 212 F. The perfect drinking temperature of coffee is supposedly 140 F, and that ten degrees might make a difference. This product might also suffer from potential patent infringement.

Inexpensive Reusable Recyclable/Compostable Travel Mug
bamboo cup.jpg

The average cost from my survey is $5.04

Very few travel mugs are recyclable or biodegradable. Starbucks is the leader in this category along with Aladdin mugs. The Starbucks and Aladdin mugs use 5 plastics, which are not always recyclable by curbside recyling. A few products are available in mass quantities for business promotions; I did not include them in my matrix, since they were $100s.

Biodegradable thermally insulated beverage cup
Sobol, US5542599 A, 1996
This patent describes a dual walled beverage cup made of a biodegradable material. It differs from my idea in that it describes biodegradable paper, thus it would not be reusable.

Method of incorporating a promotional item into a dual wall cup
Giraud, US6889455 B2, 2005
This patent is mainly for a way to insert promotional material into a dual walled mug. However, the patent does mention that biodegradable plastic can be used.

Cost assessment:
Biodegradable Plastic: $1.54/lb (0.65 lbs)

Total manufacturing cost for one unit: $1.001
Retail price: $10.01

The cost of this is based on a two layer solution. Some concerns are the competition of the reusable plastic Starbucks' mug which is very inexpensive. Finding the right material and the right design will be essential to put this product in a competitive space. Different designs would have to be considered. For instance, adding a bamboo grip. The product could also be made of glass and easily recycled. To find the perfect combination of features will be a challenge.

1 Comment


First off, I enjoyed the highly detailed explanations of all the processes. It seems like you are coming from the technical innovation side of this project, and your ideas reflect this. The one downside with many of these ideas was that very similar products and patents already exist. For example, I am not sure if redesigning the disposable coffee cup is the greatest idea, mostly because the existing cup has done so well and is not really in need of change.

The idea that I really found intriquing was the sodium acetate heat activating click mug. Now I don't completely understand the technical aspects of this mug, but I think if this idea could be manufactured cheaply and still be dishwasher safe it could be very marketable. I am wondering how you would turn off the heat activation however, but if it could easily be turned on and off it would be very useful and innovative.

Good luck!

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This page contains a single entry by kami0085 published on December 1, 2013 12:32 PM.

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