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DP3: Fortune 500 Project

Introduction

 

Motivation

The Fortune 500 Project will provide to selected manufacturers, well-articulated consumer information on needed design and functional features for a new product. The result of this information will be more useful, well received, and financially viable products being introduced into the marketplace. Mass market companies still view products for people with disabilities as niche markets that are too small to address since they understandably need to satisfy the broadest market possible. The T2RERC will demonstrate its' ability to broaden the market for new household products by making them accessible and usable to people with functional impairments, which includes the expanding market of older Americans.

We will offer free primary market research to companies in order to influence the design of the next generation of mainstream consumer products so that those products incorporate accessibility features needed by people with disabilities and the elderly. This market broadening increases a product's market size, which increases its likelihood of success.

Background

Historically, manufacturers of consumer products have made product design decisions without factoring in the needs, wants, and expectations of the full range of end consumers. This process leads to ineffective products in the marketplace, new product failures, and product abandonment. Failure rates for new product introductions vary by industry but range from 30% to 90%.[1] In many cases, the primary cause of these failures can be traced back to a point early in the product design process where significant consumer or user information failed to be collected and analyzed prior to the initial fabrication of the new device.

Many companies perform primary market research in the form of surveys or interviews with consumers regarding their device's initial concept.[2] This primary research is effective in identifying current problems, ascertaining a need for the device, and obtaining price point and purchase intent information. However, this method does not identify the key design and functional features of the device from the consumer perspective. As a further limitation, once this primary market research is accomplished and a prototype device fabricated, companies do not go back to the survey participants to critique or refine the device.

The A/T industry has faced the same complaints for decades. The medical model of rehabilitation service provision readily used clinical requirements as a substitute for user requirements. The failure to involve consumers with disabilities in every aspect of product design and development results in products that fail to meet consumer expectations and fail to deliver the required functional capabilities. The T2RERC took note of these deficiencies and responded by requiring the full involvement of consumers in the design and development of A/T products since our inception as an RERC. [3]

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