TLH-GI TEI | Successful Consumer Products


The 7Ps of Successful Consumer Products – with Designer and CEO Tracy Hazzard from The Everyday Innovator Podcast with Chad McAllister

With so many products coming out here and there, how do you successfully create a consumer product that cuts through the noise? Tracy Hazzard joins The Everyday Innovator Podcast with Chad McAllister to share her 7P process to successfully designing and launching consumer products. She talks about the concept of MVP when it comes to right-fitting a product or service, creating a maximum valuable product with a maximum impact value and design that target consumers want. Join Tracy in this episode where she takes you from planning down to producing, opening your eyes to creating consumer products that help increase not only revenue but also customer satisfaction.

Listen to the podcast here

My guest is known as the Product Whisperer. She is the CEO of an industrial design firm, Hazz Design and codesigner of many consumer products that you buy at retail stores every day. She’s a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. For many years, she’s been creating for companies of all sizes, pushing them to rethink their product lines in order to increase revenue and customer satisfaction. She also co-hosts the WTFFF?! 3D Printing Podcast and is regularly contributing to Inc. Magazine. Her name is Tracy Hazzard. Among the topics discussed is her 7-P Process to successfully design and launch consumer products. The 7-Ps are simply Prove it, Plan it, Price it, Prototype it, Protect it, Predict it and Produce it. The details in the discussion are at

Tracy, thank you so much for joining the show.

Thank you so much for having me, Chad.

You have a lot of product experience and you’re a great person to be talking to. When it comes to experience, you have your name on tons of patents. You’ve been part of product teams on now over 250plus consumer products?

My partner and I who is my husband as well have been doing this for quite some time between the two of us, on and off together for many years. The 250 products, I would say that’s close to 10 to 12 years. It’s growing every day because we never know when a retailer is going to take it in. It might not appear in the store until a few years after you designed it.

In all that experience doing consumer products, is there a category that you’ve liked working with or a product that stands out that you have a good story behind?

I’ve done a lot of office chairs over the years and that started with contract experience working at Herman Miller and I got to work with Bill Stumpf on the Aeron chair, which is the original mesh structural chair that becomes synonymous with the tech boom.

It’s the iconic chair. As someone that went through the startups and the dot-com era, if you were a startup with everything, you had one of these chairs.

Unfortunately, when the bubble burst, they are also synonymous with piles of them being auctioned off.

In my case, I had three of those chairs at home because they had no more use when the dot-com happened.

We’ve eBayed a few over the years.

Chair is a popular topic. Give us an idea of some other categories that you’ve worked at.

A lot of juvenile products, which I enjoy because I have kids and I have a lot of fun with those. When you have some firsthand experience in a product category, it’s always a little more fun. I’ve done things that I have no experience in. We started doing gaming products at one point and gaming accessories, and I had never been a gamer before. You have to dive in, get into it and start to learn firsthand what it’s all about. It’s a challenge for your product managers who are reading this. They may end up product managing diapers and they’ve never had a child. You never know what it’s going to be like tomorrow so it’s always interesting and exciting. I like that variety but I always have more fun with the stuff I know something about.

It goes both ways. If you’re a novice or new to a domain, you bring some fresh insights that others may not. You can help with the innovative nature of the product.

For us, we have a very systematic process that we apply, which is part of our high success rate. That process applies no matter what product category it is and that is because we do a lot of research-heavy at the beginning of anything, getting to know target consumers, our product categories and competitors. We spend a lot of time upfront doing that. That gives us that deep dive we need to be successful in designing in that category.

Minimum viable product is minimal. Meaning it’s the least thing you can do for someone. #podcastinterview #TheEverydayInnovator #ChadMcAllister Click To Tweet

You have to learn what’s going on before you can start understanding what the customer needs. I’ve heard you speak quite a bit. One of the topics you have talked about and I’m going to call it right-sizing, not necessarily your terminology. Talking about rightsizing the product or service in terms of what provides value to the customer as opposed to maybe throwing in additional features, product bloat and the like that the customer doesn’t need. Tell us where that came from and what’s your experience has been with right-sizing.

We call it right fit but right-sizing is a good term for it too. It goes the opposite way as well, minimum viable product stresses me, it upsets me. Minimum viable product means that it’s the least you can do for someone. I want to provide the most value that someone cares about. I call it a maximum valuable product. I don’t want to embed it with tons of bloat and features just to be feature-heavy. I want to have it have the maximum design impact value that my target consumer wants.

There is probably a twist there in the sense that I’m sure you appreciate. The MVP originally was focused on the tech world and software specific. This notion that we can put a product out that we may very well be embarrassed by, the first time. We do that quickly so we can get feedback and make it better. In the consumer product world, you have a little less flexibility because you don’t get to rapidly iterate versions, get them boxed up and get it out to customers.

It’s starting to be that we can, but the issue is that in the consumer product world, there are typically hard products and there’s tooling involved. You’re talking about tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments. You can’t put out something that’s subpar or it’s going to sit on a shelf somewhere. With prototyping, 3D printing, all of those things are making it so you can do rapid testing. We are encouraging many of our clients to do that now.

Using small-scale manufacturing capabilities is one way to think about. The desktop 3D printer to do some rapid prototyping and go from, I don’t know if you ever think about it this way but I’m so used to the MVP construct and go from the minimal viable product to your maximum valuable product.

We don’t do it with what is FFF. Desktop 3D printing, Fused Filament Fabrication. We do it also with the industrial site style sources, the powder systems or even metal. We’ve done metal glass. That’s a great way though for you not to tool for something until you’re sure it resonates with your market. I’m not saying you go and put it on the shelf at Walmart or Target. I’m saying go out there and do an Amazon market test or try and sell it to your target market and get positive feedback. Prove what is the most valuable thing and what’s resonating with them. That’s how we dial in that maximum valuable item and prove it. The idea is to get market and sales proof.

I appreciate the focus on value and that you want to maximize that for the customer. In practice, one of the problems with the traditional MVP concept of a minimal viable product is we too often focus on the minimal aspect and we don’t have a viable product. If we’re not at the MVP place, we’re still testing it until we get it right. With this experience in developing consumer products and as you say, making them the maximum valuable product, you’re talking about right fitting. I want to get our hands around what that means. Describe the right fitting for us and how you came to this.

We started dialing into what we call the right fit product many years ago when we developed a stylus pen for a handheld computer. Back then, that was the PalmPilot, the Palm economy and it was starting. This was our first foray into business together as well, my husband and I. We had to go through that rapid prototyping, only they were not that fast back then to make it fit into the PalmPilot because it docked with it.

We had to do a lot of these things to make it work but also we had a hard time getting it out to the market. It’s not like now where there are thousands of ways to reach people, social media, websites and advertising venues. We had one catalog and you had to make it resonate. You had one chance to do it and you had to beg them to let you in. It had to be perfect and it had to be right. That’s where we dialed in. What do our consumers want, what are they willing to pay for, and will this sell itself? That is the retail conundrum. It’s got to sell itself off the shelf. That’s where it’s got to be the right fit for me, for the manufacturing process, and the sales channel. All those three things have to align.

Tell us some details about what it means to be able the right fit for the sales channel or manufacturing for the consumer.

In the retail world, you have an unassisted sale environment. Nobody’s helping you sell stuff that’s on your shelf. People walk by it so your packaging is a significant part of that. It’s also what feature jumps out at people. For instance, we have an office chair that’s at Costco and it’s $99 every day. When you pass a nice mesh office chair at $99, you’re going to stop. It’s the flip-up arms and some of the other things that look like it has lumbar support that makes people stop and sit in it. That’s what you need. You need to get people to stop because they’re like, “I have a problem. My back hurts when I sit in my chair.” Maybe that won’t happen because I’m looking at that. I see it exaggerated there in its style and packaging.” It’s pointing it out and everything resonates. That’s the one message that makes that chair sell better than others.

Imagine the manufacturing process as something similar that would make manufacturing reduce waste and costs in that process.

We would like to embed ourselves with our manufacturing clients and get to know what makes them most successful. When you have to make that chair at $99, its cost of goods is super low so you have to be extremely efficient. The reason that’s been at Costco for four years is nobody else has been able to emulate that. There’s nothing new about that particular chair but nobody’s been able to produce it at that price point because it’s so optimized for the manufacturing process, its flow and how it works.

Which is a big advantage, a good way to differentiate it is being the low-cost provider, providing a quality product that offers value and doing it cheaper than others. I’m still on the right fit for the product. Does this also involve cutting out features, looking at what is not offering value to the customer and reducing or eliminating those?

It does but more often than not, we do that not so much from what we designed for our clients, we go in and we look at their overall lines. A lot of times, the client will bring us and expand themselves. Once you get on a retail shelf and you’re successfully producing and delivering on time, the buyers there would like you to continue to do more and expand your offerings into other product categories. That’s usually where a client brings us in, but 9 times out of 10, they don’t exactly have the growth income yet if they’re a new startup growing company and they’ve got a product in but they need more money.

TLH-GI TEI | Successful Consumer Products

Successful Consumer Products: In the retail world, you have an unassisted sale environment. Nobody’s helping you sell stuff on your shelf. People walk by it. So the packaging is a significant part of that.

What we do is we look at their line and say, “What features can we cut out? How can we optimize that manufacturing? How can we make things better for you in terms of operations?” Cutting deadwood is the fastest way to do that. A lot of times, if they’ve got a big product line, many colors or things like that, we can cut about 20% off of their operating and add 20% back into their operating income from doing that.

I was curious about the PalmPilot. I wanted to dig into that a bit more too. For readers who have no clue what we’re talking about, there was a time I had one of those and a few people would wear them around in their front pockets. It’s essentially a smartphone that had no phone capabilities, it did all the other things. I don’t remember who was the founder who was creating the concept but he had a block of wood with drawings on the front of it and a little stylus. He would walk around and act like he was using this organizer to keep track of notes, calendars, phone numbers and ask people about it. I’m curious at what point you got involved in this timeline.

What’s so interesting about them is that they were the first developer organization. They set up this platform at which developers could develop things for their PalmPilot platform. That’s such interesting because it’s so common. You can develop anything for the macOS or any of those types of programs but it was the first of that. We got involved with the invention very early on. I saw the first PalmPilot in a magazine and I looked at my husband Tom and I said, “I want one of those for my birthday.” He looked at me and he was like, “You want me to buy you an appliance? Are you crazy?” That was like, “Do not go there if you want to stay married to me.”

I said, “Yes, I love this idea. This is so convenient.” The first thing I did when I got it out of the box is I said, “This is not a stylus pen. Why are they calling it a stylus pen? There’s no pen, I need a pen.” We then ordered one from Cross pen. It was a pen body with the stylus stick on it. I was so mad, I returned it. That’s where he then invented and came up with the idea for how to make them coexist.

You bring together a better user experience that was more like writing on paper with a pen that felt like a regular pen.

It did, it felt like a regular pen while you were using it. A calligraphy pen would be an example of how it looked. The stylus was offset, the pen would come out, co-exist with it, and go beyond the stylus tip to write on paper when you were ready. You could use it without flipping over, changing cartridges or anything like that. It was really early on, to answer your question.

I’m curious. Does your husband, Tom, ever give you a blender or a vacuum or anything like this for a birthday or Christmas?

We’ve been married for many years, so I have to say no. My birthday is a week before Christmas too so the other rule is no joint birthday Christmas presents.

That’s important to establish. You’re not wanting to get cheated out of presents. I’m sure there are a few other readers that have the same situation. You want to make sure you get your due for both your birthday and Christmas. When it comes to this right sizing, which I’m gathering is this combination of fitting the product for a consumer product for all aspects of appealing to the customer, getting them to stop, pay attention to it, what Procter & Gamble calls Zero Moment of Truth when the customer is coming down the aisle and they see the product and interact with it, fitting it for the sales channel, distribution and manufacturing. Is there a process or other steps that you look at to help make this happen?

We have a seven-step process that we’ve found over time. It’s not the steps that are unusual, it’s the order that we do the steps that surprise people. It’s happening where this is the most efficient and cost-effective way to do it. You don’t end up redoing things and spending more money. The only thing you can do at the end if you don’t have the right fit is thrown a whole lot more money in marketing and branding, and that is super expensive.

You don’t want to fix the problem late when it costs a whole lot more. Can you walk us through the seven steps?

The first step is to prove it. It’s that idea of market proof. It’s not about proving that your function works or anything like that. We’re just proving that the concept we have has a market, that the right product and the right market have matched together. It’s not just the product but it’s also what we believe is the key feature. We start with a hypothesis of what we believe might be the key feature.

We test 1 or 2 of them out. We see how they work and how they resonate. We do that through market research, competitive research, and in general social research. It’s any one of those things. Proving it is the first and it’s key. We kill ideas very early on in the process. We haven’t tooled or prototyped anything. We haven’t spent any money beyond our time and energy to research that and few consultants if we need to bring it in a moderator or a research group or something.

The first is to prove it, then we plan it. That’s where we lay out the best plan for the process. Sometimes that means that we have to rethink some resources in order to make something happened. We sit down and we plan out on paper all of the launch processes for that product and we present that to our clients at that time. We go through it together because we want to make sure everybody’s clear on how it’s going to go in the order that things are going to go. Because we handle design and development, you have to have a marketing team that’s onboard. They have their stuff done on time and you have to make sure it’s realistic. We spend a lot of time on that step and making sure it’s dialed in and right.

If you can’t get the right price, then it’s not the right fit. #podcastinterview #TheEverydayInnovator #ChadMcAllister Click To Tweet

You use the word launch. When you’re planning it, are you planning all the way through? You did the concept already, then developed it and then launched it to market?

We hold hands for our clients from brainstorm to box just through the first run, and then we do follow up as well. That’s a whole another set of steps. That’s the after steps where we check in and get feedback on customer response to it. Anytime there might be problems in customer service, they call us. During the first six months after a product is launched, we pay attention to make sure that we make any refinements we can. It’s post but it ends at the box.

From plan it, we go to price it. That’s where most people are very surprised. Still, we haven’t made anything yet and we’re already figuring out the price because if you can’t get the right price, then it’s not a right fit. It makes choices for us in materials. It determines the key design and key product criteria that we’re going to go forward with. It also determines for us what we keep and what we don’t in the other features.

While you want to have a valuable feature that makes someone choose you, you still also have to have a competitive product along the lines. You have to match what your competitors are doing at their price point. We look at that and we’re careful about our pricing and we all confirm, “This is the target pricing.” We do that way before sourcing it in China or something like that. We’ve never had a manufacturer involved at that point. It’s just with our clients.

Make sure you have the margins planned that make it a win for the company as well as for the customer.

Prototype It

We go from there to starting the prototype process. We look through and do iterations and we spend a lot of time. Usually, for certain products, we make absolute full size. We don’t do any of this on a computer. We design in the computer but we don’t leave that as the output. A lot of people do that and that’s where they have a mistake in the process where the tooling is not right or something doesn’t fit right. It’s a huge problem that a lot of designers never get into the factory and never build anything. We don’t make that mistake. It’s happened tons of times in the history of companies we’ve worked with. We said that we’re not going to do that with our base of clients.

What do you use for the prototyping? We mentioned 3D printing before and a few different ways of doing that. What’s your experience with making this design real?

We try to work in almost any material that is necessary for that product. If it got fabrics on it and it’s got to be upholstered, then we use an upholstery shop. We have built our owned resource team there where we can have pretty much anything. We can have glass or plastics made. We can CNC something. We can laser-cut some things. We can bend metal. We can do whatever we need there, including painting it so it looks good too.

This is the Superman of prototyping capabilities that can bend steel and do what you need.

People are so worried about the cost of prototyping but when we prototype over in Asia where our products are being made, they’re using the same equipment. What we also get out of that is a good bill of materials and dialed in like, “How much labor does this take and what is the anticipation on that?” It’s because we’re in control of it and we’re not relying on the factory at this point, we also haven’t revealed our invention if there is something innovative in the invention. You notice also in those four steps we’ve covered so far, we haven’t patented anything yet.

I heard another P coming up at some point.

Protect It

That’s the next one. It’s to protect it. It sometimes overlaps with that prototyping process. It might happen halfway or partway through but we don’t dial in and go for patenting unless we absolutely have to. If we do, we usually do a provisional. Even still, we’ll probably file a provisional at that stage because it gives you a little more time. With the retail cycles and everything, you want to wait as long as possible before you start revealing things.

As soon as you do things, then someone might copy them.

Predict It

Our fifth step is to protect it. Our sixth step is to predict it and here’s where a lot of startups go wrong. If you don’t plan for it to exceed your growth expectations, then you can go wrong. An example of that is the Coolest Cooler on Kickstarter. They killed it out on Kickstarter and had 60,000 of them.

They have winter on top of it, who doesn’t want this?

I have one downstairs that we got. It’s not quite warm enough to use it so we haven’t tried it out yet but it’s sitting down there. In our world and the way that we work, that would have already been out. It would have been in Costco and Target. It would have all happened but they didn’t plan for that level of distribution. Having not the right manufacturer set, not the choices in engineering services that you need, making all of those mistakes extend your time to market. They also put a lot of high risk in it in that a product manager or a retailer is less likely to want to take you on because you don’t have as much proof that you’ve been successfully delivering.

TLH-GI TEI | Successful Consumer Products

Successful Consumer Products: To right-fit a product is to create a Maximum Valuable Product with the maximum impact value and the maximum design impact that the target consumer wants.

Give us a little more detail about how that goes about. As you talk about predict it, I’m thinking in my head, this is a forecasting exercise. It sounds like you must have some data behind the typical assumptions. You’re getting to a place where you can be more credible with distributors like Costco about what a product would do.

What we do is we look at it threefold. We look at it whether or not the client that we have, the vendor delivering into a Costco or something has the capability of delivering at that level. If not, how can we help give them that proof, give them an opportunity? In a lot of startups cases, we send them straight into Amazon. We get them fulfilling at a high level there until they’ve proven that they have a viable product that has a market match and that they delivered successfully on time and they have some proof. We put them into a distributor who already has proven that they can deliver and they’re going through someone else’s distribution process. That’s one way to look at it, depending on the level.

The second part of that is the manufacturer. We might have 2 or 3 sources chosen so that we could second source if necessary. Also, if you end up with such a great fit and the buyer wants it so badly, you have a source where you can head straight for that higher level. A lot of retailers nowadays and product managers are choosing to do a test run, a couple of store tests. You might need another manufacturer because your high-volume source may not be willing to do two container loads. The third part of it is forecasting like how long is this going to last in the market, what is the market thinking, what are other competitive products doing. I’m not that numbers person. I rely on somebody else to provide me and help us with that.

You’re paying attention to the trends that are taking place and how this product might do with regard to those trends.

That is all forecasting. Forecasting itself is somewhat of an art. I wish it weren’t. I wish it was a little easier, hard and fast and real math, but it is an art because there’s so much prediction in the process.

Some of the steps that you have taken for some clients like doing the fulfillment through Amazon is a way of not only creating a proof for pull through by a Costco or other source, but also a way to establishing those numbers to help you with a real forecast.

Yes, it does. It gives you an indication of the turns and that’s a little bit of our market-proof side. We fool-proof it back in at various stages. That is exactly what we would do there. If we have no idea how something is going to turn, we want to run a couple of months or week test and see it. That’s why a lot of retailers do their 2 or 3 store tests.

You mentioned Kickstarter has not been a big fan but I’m curious, have you helped people in the past with the product through Kickstarter?

Not specifically. We’ve had them come out to us afterward with absolute horror stories about how it didn’t work and what has happened here. I’m like, “I can’t help you now. It’s a little too late. You destroyed the brand identity of this product and the process because you failed on Kickstarter. This is hard for me to get into help you.” What we have done though is help people price better before they go into it because that’s a mistake that you can make.

We’ve had a few projects where we’ve done that and we said, “You’ve got the wrong reward pricing. If you don’t price this right, you’re not going to be able to deliver it.” That’s because we have a lot of numbers of what it costs to put through a container, what things will cube out at, and how you have to pack things

Price makes choices for us in materials. It determines the key design and product criteria that we’re going to go forward with. #podcastinterview #TheEverydayInnovator #ChadMcAllister Click To Tweet

As a quick example, I don’t know what happened here, but I was a backer of the Lean Startup boardgame. It was created in Israel, I might be wrong about that. In 90 minutes you learn how the Lean Startup methodology by playing the boardgame. Lots of great fun, but they ran into an issue at the end. They got it shipped to everyone except all their US backers. They couldn’t figure out how to get a storage container over here cost-effectively enough to not lose money on the deal. They finally figured it out but everything’s shipped to the US a month after to the rest of the world.

Produce It

That’s the thing. We have a lot of resources who have already done this and who’ve done it successfully. It’s easier for us to get numbers on that, get the dollars that are associated with that. Back to our seven steps, the last step is to produce it. We’re not making anything until the very end.

The final P is making it real.

The key to that for us is that we babysit it. You can’t make things over in Asia and not go there. Many people are private labeling and all of those things, but they’re just buying on Alibaba. Alibaba is like a phone book to me. It doesn’t tell you whether or not anyone is good and reliable, and if anyone cares about your business there. You have to establish relationships with your potential supplier. You have to build that in. We like to do that at the designer level rather than leave that completely up to our clients so that the design integrity is built-in throughout the process. I can’t tell you how many times it would have been disastrous if we hadn’t been on top of it, including products coming to the US completely unusable. It’s a protection method that we put in, and it saves time and money for our clients.

Are you guys racking up the frequent flyer miles then to Asia?

We have been over the years, although some years has been a little slower because we’ve been doing so much more 3D printing which is more domestic-based for us than it has been. Sometimes we’re at ten weeks a year in China.

There seem to be two big pieces that make what you do work. One is to run them by you and see if it’s right or not. The first year you have the 7-P Process. I’m so happy that they were all Ps, I was hoping you were going down that path. I don’t know why but I have an affinity for P processes. Prove it, plan it, price it, prototype it, protect it, predict it and produce it are the process that works and that you’ve proven many times. Also, it sounds like there’s a lot of deep experience in relationships with pulling together all the pieces and expertise like who do you work with in Asia if you need a prototype made? Who do you work locally to get something done? I’m sure there was a lot of time involved in building up those relationships and that experience.

TLH-GI TEI | Successful Consumer Products

Successful Consumer Products: If you don’t plan for the product to actually exceed your growth expectations, then you can actually go really wrong.


We’ve been building this up for many years because that’s when we first started in Asia. When we started making those stylus pens for handheld computers, that was our first experience there. We didn’t have Skype and all those things. It was different back then. We had email but it was not all that reliable. It’s made it so much easier nowadays. For us to have built up the team that we trust, it’s taken about ten years to get it exactly where we like it and where it works for us. It’s speedy. That’s why people come to us. It’s going to sail through the process. You’re not going to hit all these launch landmines that you would hit otherwise.

Speedy and reliable are key issues because a lot of people that first get into, and I have very little experience with consumer products, but when we get into this space of wanting to build something physical and the idea of offshoring that work, there’s a lot of hesitation like, “Am I going to be taken advantage of? Are the producers offshore are going to give me what I want? Is someone going to steal the concept and copy my idea?” It’s like the whole hoverboard problem that we’ve had. Having those trusted relationships in place and being able to predict what is going to happen because of past experiences is a valuable capability.

When people ask me questions, and I get a lot of inventors and entrepreneurs taking my time at a conference, picking my brain on how we do that, and how we protect ourselves while we’re over there. I’ve had as many problems more using manufacturers in the US. The reason for it is that the clients that we’ve had that already had these relationships set up in the US chose someone that was conveniently located to them that they thought they could trust. They could drive down the road, look at them and see what they’re doing, but sometimes they don’t have it.

We made this exact mistake back. That’s where I learned at first. We made this exact mistake making stylus pens and our pens exploded. They broke apart because the manufacturer didn’t have the experience in making pens. The threads weren’t right between the barrel and the end of the pen. I find it much better and much more reliable if you choose someone who already has category experience.

We make it a rule both in engineering as well because we’ve had problems with batteries exploding or leaking because the engineer didn’t do their job right in how they designed that electrical setup. We try to make sure that we have someone who’s done this before in those particular categories, and then we push them to do the innovative thing that we want to do. We do it in a “hands-on, lead them along” kind of way to getting them to do the innovative thing we want them to do because they want to make exactly what they’ve made before. I want to make something innovative and new, so we have to push them a little bit on that.


They grow to trust us and our process because we make them successful over time, then it’s a lot easier the second time we come back to them again. It is critically important to do that and if you can’t do it, we always have to double-check the system. If we have to let the manufacturer do the engineering of a circuit board or something, we have someone in the US that we hire that has done this. They check that or knows what they’re looking for to do it again for us and say, “Is this working? Is this right?”

The tip is as much as possible, go with someone that has category experience. If you can’t do that, then hire someone that can double-check the work and make sure it’s meeting the needs you have.

That’s exactly it.

Thank you for walking through the 7-P process with us. I also asked you to prepare an innovation quote and to share why you chose this one. Give us yours and the background on it.

My quote is, “Hope is not a plan.” It’s one of the things that I don’t even know where we heard it first but Tom and I say it to each other pretty much every day. What we get is when we talk to inventor groups, innovators out there, and people with products, especially hard products that are very common there, is that they’re stuck in a state of permanent potential. They have a great idea and they hope people are going to buy it and people like it. Their family says it’s great. They think it’s going to be good and they’re hoping for success. Sometimes that hope is $100,000 of tooling later and they didn’t have a whole plan for, and now they’ve got a product. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, and they have no money left to market it. You have to look at it as a whole plan. That’s what we do. We say hope is not a plan. You plan for the successful launch of a product.

TLH-GI TEI | Successful Consumer Products


I know this quote gets used a lot. I don’t know who it originated from, but it’s an important one for everyone to know. It reminds me of some Shark Tank episodes. Occasionally, there’s the inventor that comes and hasn’t started the business yet. They have this beautiful product and they’re asked, “How much have you spent on this so far?” Sometimes they’re big numbers like $3 million. They have no validation done to know if there’s someone in the world that wants to buy this for the price they plan to sell it at.

It’s crazy and that scares me. The other one that bothers me is the ones that say, “The market is this big and if we get only 1%.” I want to go, “Where’s your proof? Prove to me you can get 1% in turn.”

A plan is much better and thanks to you, we all have the seven-step process to help us with planning. What do you want to leave readers with and how can they find out about the work that you’re doing?

I am an Inc. columnist. I write a column called By Design and my focus is on innovation and success by design. You can find me on there. I’ll give you a direct link to the column. Also, you can find me on What I want you to come away with is that the product world is so exciting right now with all these things coming in like 3D printing. The face of retail is going to change and we’re opening up the possibilities to young new companies coming in, new product ideas, personalized products coming up.

All of that is so exciting but as product managers and as people who have to manage the process of products going into the market, we all have to think carefully about how that happens and make sure that we’re protecting the consumers on one side, and also doing what’s best to grow our market. Our market is not shopping the way they used to shop. We have to think carefully about how we can balance those two things.

That’s excellent for us to think about for sure, that there are those two sides of the equation. I appreciate your time, Tracy. Thank you for sharing the seven steps again and sharing your experience with us.

It’s been a pleasure.

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TLH-GI TEI | Successful Consumer Products

The Everyday Innovator Podcast

Chad McAllister