Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Who Needs a Burger Press?

Grilling season is upon us, and I've been meaning to look into burger presses. Not necessarily because I want one, but because I've been wondering who does? I'm more the type to be lulled into a stress free zone by patting out my burgers systematically, and I haven't as yet desired a machine to do it for me. But the fact remains that there are a LOT of these little devices on the market in many forms - so here's the run-down:Williams Sonoma is all over the idea of perfectly formed burgers. They've got round ones, square ones, and pleasing heavy cast tools all around. The pass-through design seems to make sense as patties drop straight through after you press them.
Crate & Barrel has also been working the burger angle, although their presses make a bit less sense. The presses are virtually burger molds, with not much opportunity to extricate the patties intact...may explain why they're on clearance at this time!
There's also a lot of professional grade equipment on the market, and an affordable option is Weston's Burger Express. It's spring loaded, making it easy to remove the burger intact off of the raised platform after you press it. And you get to set your desired thickness. As with most presses, the use of waxed paper is encouraged to make production perfect.

What I'd like to see next is a press that allows you to customize - who says we all want the same burger size? Or maybe something that cranks out the burgers like a potato slicer? Or a patty sized cookie gun? There's definitely room for improvement here. I now understand the appeal - users describe deep satisfaction with consistent thickness, shape, and ease of production. But I think a better product awaits - after all if you're in the market for a burger press, you're seeking perfection.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

How do you Start from Scratch?

The conversation tends to go like this:
Me: I'm in product development
You: Really? I have this great idea I always wanted to make, let me tell you about it.
I listen to the idea, then you ask: So how much would it cost? You know, to make it?
I describe many caveats and exceptions, but eventually I have to name a number, and your face falls.
The reality is that making something new isn't easy, and it sure isn't cheap. So how do you start from scratch? How do you know if it's worth the risk? This is an area where research meets design to generate a strategic plan. The development process relies on identifying a quantifiable market opportunity - there must be money to be made in the first place. The process equally relies on understanding your users to the degree that you can spot these opportunities, harvest sufficient insights, and produce a desirable solution to a user need.

I recently embarked on this journey for the first time with a true start-up entrepreneur. Over the years I've heard a thousand great ideas, but this was the first one that had the opportunity, insight, and solution to potentially make it. Visit Goat Gear to learn more about the product you're seeing below.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Couponed Out Yet?

Extreme Couponers is on TV. A million group coupon emails are in your inbox. Stores you "like" push incentives onto your Facebook wall. There's a coupon just about everywhere you look these days!

Why now? What's the trend all about? A new generation of consumers, who no longer subscribe to print papers, are discovering coupons for the first time through other mediums. Bloomberg values Groupon's IPO at $15B - $25B. To maintain that value Groupon will need to evolve - consumers are already experiencing coupon fatigue, and only 10% have actually purchased a group coupon. People are still vary of jumping down an internet rabbit hole chasing after a coupon - it's a little more sketchy than flipping through the Sunday paper coupons.

As companies accrue more and more data about us, the offers will become more specialized and the targeting will be fine-tuned. But are you really getting a discount(meaning real cash value) from the coupon offers that appeal to you? Or is this just advertising dressed cleverly in sheepskin? After all, you're not saving money if you're buying something you didn't plan to buy in the first place.