During the last five years of building Cozy Industries, perhaps the most important thing I discovered was that, observing and listening to customers is one of the most effective ways to discover new products. Here are three examples from our customers.
People repurposing your products is awesome!
When customer repurposes your product to me it signals an unmet need. In 2013, we released LightningCozy for the Apple Lighting to Micro USB adapter. The adapter cost $20 and was extremely tiny. Seemed like a slam dunk at the time, but LightningCozy never sold particularly well.
Nevertheless, we continued offering the product. Then towards the end of November 2015, sales started picking up considerably. Why?
I tried reaching out to customers to see what was going on, but they decided to be mysterious and standoffish. Okay, fine; be that way.
Then I came across this image on Amazon:
Customers were re-purposing our LightningCozy for the Apple Pencil, or more specifically the the Apple Pencil Cap. I knew immediately I could design a better custom solution. Funny enough, at the time you couldn't even buy the Apple Pencil because they were all sold out. So I went the local Apple Store with a pair of calipers and measured all its dimensions.
Here were a couple design explorations from that:
Initially we considered an open ended design, but then decided to close the top so that it could be used to cover the connector incase the pencil cap was already lost.
Kinda taking a crack at the Rose Gold fad... One of our copy cat knock offs decided to go for it.
Three weeks later, PencilCozy was born! A perfectly fitted solution to people losing that Apple Pencil cap, and I was the first to market with it. Here it is as it exists today:
Listening and Observing is Hard…
A few years back, an old colleague from Apple sent me a message: He wanted a cover for his lightning cable, particularly for his car. I thought, “Hmm, maybe,” and filed the request in the back of my head.
Then a product designer friend of mine asked, “Hey, could you come up with some Cozy for my USB Cables, like USB Cover or cap? Sometimes my cable gets corroded from being in the rain on my motorcycle”. I did't think this was really I a big problem, I was wrong... (Check this thread).
Six months later I was doing an epic bicycle ride up the mountains of Taiwan. The weather at the top of the mountain was super-misty, and one of the guys I was riding with’s Garmin 520 Bike computer died because a wet USB cord that shorted it out.
That’s when I should’ve been like this:
Instead, I was more like
But the need was obvious! I had three positive signals that there was a need for a product that protected cords from the elements.. When I looked up “USB Caps” on Amazon, I knew I could do better than this:
To me 63 reviews also indicated there was a reasonable demand for this product. I'd estimate out of every hundred product sold, maybe one or two leave a review. So we could design a more appealing product with better functionality. Like this:
Now we have Cozy USB Cover/Caps for Lightning/Micro USB, USB Type C and Mini USB. And USB Type A (Normal USB) will be out in a few weeks. Not only do these keep out debris and moisture, they’re attached to the cable, so there’s no way to lose ‘em.
“Can you coat with phosphorous or something to make it glow in the dark?”
While making the original MagCozy for the Apple MagSafe Coverter, I wasn’t sure what colors to offer. Some customers wanted to show off their brand-new widgets. Others wanted them concealed from view. In our backer survey, a customer named Michael requested a “Glow In The Dark” version. Damn, that was genius! In fact, I suddenly wanted a version that glowed, too. Now it’s our second best-selling “color”. So thanks for that, Michael!"
By taking a second to slow down, engage and really hear what customers are saying we were able to understand more clearly what they needed, and design for it.
Have you had similar experiences in your industry? We'd love to hear about it! Also if you need a new Cozy let us know as well.