Comparative Product Research Tools
The following tools exist to help you better understand other products and how they relate to yours. They are useful for collecting information, but ultimately need you to draw insights from their data.
You can utilize tools like Google Patent or hire a professional patent attorney to help survey the patent landscape. These searches are generally conducted in your field or product space and can identify active patents, expired patents, and abandoned patents. All of this is helpful in determining what prior art exists and can help you form a strategy for your intellectual property.
Comparative Product Chart
The comparative product chart is great for viewing a lot of data about a few products. It allows you to compare categories information across a handful of products. This is usually includes your most relevant competitors and can include as many variables as you want.
It’s very common to include variables such as cost, features, ease of use, materials, weight, and available colors. Some may even include variation in target market. Each chart requires its own careful consideration based on what information is relevant to your success.
Product Positioning Map
Product Positioning Maps are helpful when you want to compare 2-3 specific data points and are best suited when that data can be set to a scale like cost or quality. When you plot the products on a map, it can illustrate the gaps and crowded spaces in the market.
This is technique helps you determine how similar (proven success, hard to differentiate, lower potential) or unique (unproven, easier to differentiate, higher potential) you want to be with your product.
Sequence of Use Diagrams
Sequence of Use Diagrams map out a full user experience step by step. If you map out your competitors, that can help to identify opportunities to reduce steps and create a better user experience and competitive edge. These diagrams can also point out complicated decision making steps and are particularly helpful with IoT devices and software applications.
Journey maps are like the big brother of Sequence of Use Diagrams. They focus on how products are made, distributed, purchased, shipped, stored, used, and disposed of. These maps are useful for identifying operational opportunities for improvement.
Finding similar products and taking them apart is a great way to start learning how products work. You can observe different assembly techniques, different part designs, and identify potential components for use.
Be careful drawing too much from someone else’s product if you’re trying to file a patent. Anything you see would be considered “Prior Art” and it could even already be patented.