Moving new housing technologies into the marketplace is a difficult and daunting task, particularly the so-called "game changer." Usually, the risks are perceived by the private sector to be too excessive given the potential rewards, and opportunities to advance technologies aren’t pursued. All too often, the status quo rules because the barriers to success are complex, multifaceted, and require interdisciplinary solutions involving more than just one manufacturer's product but a "systems of products." Understandably, that’s often where individual product manufacturers’ investment in innovation stops. It is one thing to think about re-designing your own product, but it’s quite another to think about asking all those manufacturers whose products attach to or interact with yours to consider changing theirs! That’s a challenge for even the most sophisticated product manufacturer.
People complicate the picture even more. Human behavior – attitudes, habits, biases, communication styles, and preferences – and a wide array of human cultural issues can all affect the success of a new or innovative product. Often, building scientists and product manufacturers are uncomfortable evaluating the human, qualitative aspects of the market’s interest in a new product and resort to the risky “if-you-build-it-they-will-come” strategy.
Though difficult, it is important to evaluate both the technical and the behavioral components of the innovation equation in advancing new and innovative building technologies. Creating profitable market opportunities for new technologies often requires a comprehensive, integrated, systems-level approach to research. It also requires that we attempt to understand the nature of the processes key decision makers use in determining whether or not a new product is specified or bought.
Many of our clients are attacking this challenge head on. Increasingly, our work integrates behavioral market research into the more typical building science we do for clients. This means we’re not only able to determine that the product will perform as expected, but sell as expected as well.
Few test labs and certification bodies maintain both a building science and market research capability. We do because we have found it necessary to understand human foibles as much as the properties of a specific building material or product in helping our clients achieve financial success with their housing product innovations.
Let me know if there are challenges you are facing in pushing innovation into the market – perhaps we can help.***