While an invention can appear to have potential when considered on face-value, it is in an inventor’s best interest to research the market potential of a new product idea, the best possible, before investing further time and expense into its development. There are several basic areas that should be considered in this process of evaluating an invention, as addressed in the subheadings that follow.
Does the Invention Solve a Problem?
This is always a major question when evaluating an invention because solving a problem is the basic purpose behind all inventions. It needs to eliminate a step that adds difficulty in accomplishing something or in making that step easier for those using the invention.
Some of the ways a product-invention helps to solve a problem include the following.
- makes a common task easier
- eliminates a step in accomplishing a task
- adds enjoyment to a task
- provides a convenience when performing a task
If for example an invention is in the area of household cleaning products the invention should solve a problem or add a convenience in that area. A product that makes it easier to empty a full vacuum cleaner bag, a dishwasher additive that improves the cleaning action on dishes and an attachment for a bathtub-shower cleaning brush that allows reaching better from a standing position, would all be examples of household cleaning products that solve a problem for consumers.
If the invention only solves a minor problem that most people are not concerned about, an inventor may feel it is not worth pursuing further. If it solves a problem that is concerning to consumers who are obviously looking for a solution, this may indicate that is has real market value. This is the basic appeal that would create sales and by determining how important it is in solving a problem or adding a convenience, this can also help to determine its potential market value.
Does the Invention have a Wide Appeal?
Even when a product has a definite problem solving ability, this does not necessarily determine how well it will sell on the market. If for example, an invention is a chew-toy for dogs with sensitive teeth that would be very desirable for owners of dogs suffering with this problem. It does however need to be determined if there are only a small number of dogs who have this problem or if there are potentially large numbers of them.
A company, who already manufactures dog chew-toys, could add this type product to their line and it would possibly be worthwhile for them to do so. An inventor however would likely only benefit to a small degree should he license the invention (to receive royalty-percentage payments) to a dog chew-toy company due to limited sales compared to products that would benefit all dogs in general.
In these cases an inventor needs to determine the cost to develop an invention into a presentable product for pet toy companies, versus the amount that might be paid in royalties under a License Agreement or for an outright sale of the invention. If the cost to develop it is not higher than the expected profit that would be made, the invention might be worth pursuing further.
Can the Invention be Manufactured at a Reasonable Cost?
Determining the cost to manufacture an invention consists of materials needed to make a finished product and in the manufacturing process. Some inventions have parts that are already available through other manufacturers and can be incorporated into the finished product, to reduce some of the cost. If there are however, parts that require special tooling or molds, this must be factored into the manufacturing cost.
If an inventor plans to license his invention and not self-manufacture it, the “Licensee” (company that will manufacture it) can conduct research for using the most affordable materials needed that still retain quality for the finished product. If an inventor plans to self-market the product-invention, he would still need to have manufacturers helping him, to conduct studies on costs to affordably but effectively manufacture a finished product on a timely basis.
Can the Invention be Packaged Affordably?
Packaging is a major factor in both protecting a product from damage and in attracting consumers with sales appeal. Most product-inventions can be packaged for sale feasibly, so that the cost of the packaging doesn’t raise the final retail price too high for consumers to afford it. There are however cases in which a product has multiple parts that must be wrapped in protective materials inside of its main container.
Products can also be heavier than average and require stronger, more expensive materials to protect and package them. An inventor needs to determine if he or a manufacturer he may license or sell his invention to, can package his product-invention efficiently and affordably, so that it can still be offered at a desirable retail price. This may require researching the cost of packaging materials and the cost to a manufacturer to complete this packaging, using similar products they already package as a guideline.
Once the cost of packaging is reasonably determined, an inventor must then combine this cost with that required for manufacturing the invention itself, to determine if an appealing final retail for consumers can still be achieved. If one type of packaging cannot achieve this, an inventor may need to look into alternative ways to package his invention.
These questions and considerations are useful in evaluating the worth in pursuing marketing of a product-invention. It is, however, also important to protect the invention as the inventor goes through this evaluation process by making sure they do not disclose details of it to anyone before they have obtained proper patent protection.