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Connecting Customer Needs in Product Design


The case presents an issue of poor market performance of a small firm producing glasses which illustrates a broader set of problems. Most of them appear to stem from a lack of cohesion between different departments each of which has their own distinct goals (De Toni & Nassimbeni, 2003). This particular issue is paramount, as it is typical for many firms to have collaboration problems on stages of design, production, and marketing. In this paper, the challenges will be discussed through the prism of planning and market assessment.

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In his book, Chaston (2010) urges businesses to allocate sufficient time to elaborate on a viable plan of actions in which all stakeholders’ considerations are addressed. While many companies tend to adopt the action-based approach to production, they neglect the value of reflective thinking. In this case, increased time allocated to devising a comprehensive strategy that would tackle all sides and stages of product life would have allowed the company to avoid decision-making setbacks that it experienced. It could be argued. However, that client’s market behavior may be unpredictable and susceptible to certain events and changes in trends. Nonetheless, all those risks could be considered at the planning stage and countered with appropriate risk-mitigation strategies. The spectacle company discussed in the case could assess all barriers suggested by marketing, production, supply, and design executives regarding the proposed glasses design and collaboratively think on their overcoming. The result of such sessions would be a well-thought strategy that contains guidance for all concerned parties.

Market Assessment

Chaston (2010) argues that market assessment could also be instrumental in the process of introducing a new product. He claims that there exists a necessity to be aware of the elements that affect sales. For instance, the segmentation of the market on buyers and potential buyers could help resolve the issue of product launch mentioned in the case. By interacting with both segments instead of orienting only on the former, the company could anticipate the interest in the new concept of glasses before it enters the production stage. This approach could help economize resources and obtain a better knowledge of one’s customer base.

Another vital suggestion provided by Chaston (2010) is that even market analysts and professionals could be erroneous in assuming and predicting trends. Therefore, there is a need to plan a potential risk of failure and include a mitigation strategy to prepare for a miscalculation. One such strategy, as Chaston (2010) argues, is in orienting closely to the needs of existing customers in times of fluctuation. The seeming controversy between communicating with potential and existing customers expressed above speaks to the complexity of the market assessment. Therefore, the maintenance of an appropriate balance between attracting a new audience and retaining the current one is one of the key tasks for a marketing department.


All in all, both planning and market analysis are vital for the successful product launch and economic wellbeing of a company. While for large corporations a failure in this endeavor may not be critical for survival, small companies as the one discussed in the case could suffer substantial losses. Planning could bring all department heads at one table to resolve possible misalignments while market assessment may allow the company to stray from producing unwanted goods. Therefore, careful analysis and strategizing should precede production and launching to avoid miscommunication, sales failures, and other financially hurting issues.


Chaston, I. (2010). Entrepreneurial management in small firms (2nd ed.). London, UK: SAGE Publications.

De Toni, A., & Nassimbeni, G. (2003). Small and medium district enterprises and the new product development challenge: Evidence from Italian eyewear district. International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 23(5/6), 678-698.

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