Tarlow “Invention idea to consumer product”

Do you think you have the next million-dollar invention idea? SAVVY can help make your dream a reality. We'd like to start by introducing you to an important partner of ours, and share his advice on what to consider when planning your first invention.

Ken Tarlow is the president of Tarlow Design, a product development company that helps entrepreneurs develop their great new product idea. He has helped develop over 500 consumer products worth over 1 billion dollars in retail sales. See what Ken has to say:


1. Unique feature is patentable and exciting.

There are thousands of products out there competing for the consumer’s dollar. Your product needs to be unique and exciting. It should illicit the response. “That's really neat, I’ve got to have one…”.

2. Fills a real need.

Even a whimsical product fills a need - which is the need to have laughter and fun in our lives. Think carefully about what need you are filling and make sure you fill it in the best way you know how.

3. Can be manufactured easily - no major mysteries to solve.

Years ago, one of my clients came in with the idea of a cordless lamp that would light up a room and work by remote control. Well, the remote-control part is easy enough, but the cordless part is tough because, until recently, incandescent lamps need quite a bit of electricity which means you would need a huge rechargeable battery. These are quite costly and make the manufacturing of this product infeasible to produce at a reasonable price. However, the introduction of low cost LED lighting which uses much less electricity, opens the doors to all types of cordless lamps, which create new product opportunities for inventive entrepreneurs.

"All the puzzle pieces must fit when developing a great invention idea into a successful consumer product.” Ken Tarlow

"All the puzzle pieces must fit when developing a great invention idea into a successful consumer product.” Ken Tarlow

4. People love the way it looks.

Your product should have sex appeal. Someone should be proud to order it and display it.

5. People love the way it works.

The physical use of the product should be safe and easy. People should not be frustrated while using the product.

6. Fills a psychological need.

There should be a feeling of satisfaction when using the product and there should be a strong justification factor when the consumer is considering the purchase of your product. There should be a definite feel that this product will improve the consumer’s life.

7. Easy to understand.

A person should be able to look at the product and, at the most, read one short sentence about it to know exactly what the product is and what it does. If it takes 10 minutes to explain how the product performs, you will probably need a huge marketing budget to educate the public on the benefits of your product.

8. Borrows sophisticated parts from already existing technology to fill a new need.

The Piezo Electric Transducer was developed originally to act as a simple signal device or buzzer. There’s one in every electric alarm clock and some smoke alarms. Someone took this new piece of technology and applied an ultra-high frequency to the transducer and discovered that it drove away rodents and other unwanted pests. An exciting technology, used in a new way, gave birth to a new product – The Ultra Sonic Pest Eliminator.

9. Builds traffic in store.

Store buyers are always looking for new products to attract people to their store. A new Housewares product may get the consumer to go into the Housewares Department where they will not only see the new product, but other standard products which they may also decide to purchase.

10. No major safety problems.

The whole country has become “Lawsuit Crazy” and lawsuits are filed for the most trivial reasons. If your product has the potential to hurt someone or - even worse - kill someone, if not used properly, then you should get legal counsel about the consequences of making such a product. It is crucial to then follow all the safety rules governing the manufacturing of such a product. And last, but not least, you may want to check out the cost of product liability insurance.


11. Great price to value ratio.

The second thing consumers do after looking at a product and saying, “Hey, that’s neat,” is to look at the price. The price should be equal to the value that the consumer sees in the product. If the price is higher than the perceived value, they will put the product down. (Sometimes, in more ways than one!) On the contrary, if the price is lower than the perceived value, that person may feel suspicious and think the product was cheaply made and will not last.

12. Great gift.

50% of retail sales take place around the Christmas season. Your product should be appealing and glamorous enough to be given as a gift. Attractive packaging can make all the difference in the world.

13. Great demonstration product.

More and more products are being sold on T.V. through one, two and thirty-minute infomercials. It’s a plus if your product produces some dramatic results or has an interesting action and, at the same time, can be appealing to a large segment of the television viewing population.