What do the most innovative products of the past decade have in common?

Consumer Reports recently compiled a list of what they deemed as “the most influential products” of the past decade from the technology, home appliance, and food industries. The products they included ranged from whirligig gadgets like the Amazon Echo and Google Nest to home products like Tide detergent pods. In this post, we’ll examine a few of the products that online readers ranked as most influential: the iPad, the Instant Pot, and Beyond Meat.

Before we take a look at each innovation in more detail, there are at least ten things these disruptive products have in common. They all:

1. Redefine a niche

2. Capitalize on existing consumer behaviors

3. Consistently meet or go beyond consumer expectations

4. Are unique, but remain conceptually simple to understand

5. Are convenience-minded

6. Surprise and delight users

7. Tackle difficult lifestyle problems

8. Have an appealing aesthetic or name

9. Have robust organic marketing

10. Have a recognizable brand

Product teams can take note of these commonalities — which span across UI, UX, branding, and marketing — and use them as a baseline when evaluating their offering. To what extent does what you’re building reflect each of these qualities? Can more be done in a certain area? Let’s take a deeper dive into how each product made a splash.

The iPad: The First Delightful Tablet

The iPad launch in 2010 would be the last great Steve Jobs keynote before the Apple CEO died the following year, and the new tablet proved itself to be a lasting contribution to his legacy. The iPad was a daring innovation choice for Apple, as it had to fit into the nebulous space between smartphones and laptops. Some wondered if the iPad would be a cannibalizing force within Apple’s line-up, perhaps making its other products less desirable or even obsolete. Despite the skepticism, sales boomed upon release, and today we find it a staple fixture in homes, businesses, and even schools.

What is it that made the iPad such a promising device right out of the gate? For one, it innovates on a device already popular in the market — the iPhone. By the time the iPad came out, people were accustomed to the iPhone’s interface and knew how to interact with it even if the use cases revolving around leisure activities were different. Similarly, the concept of a multitouch surface meant for movies and books was simple to understand even if you’d never had a tablet before. And with a signature Apple user experience far superior than anything existing in the market, it was all but expected that its sheer delight would draw in customers.

The Instant Pot: Convenience First

Unlike Apple's minimalist approach, the Instant Pot has a dazzling array of buttons — so many, that some may find it overwhelming at first. But where the Instant Pot really shines is reliably living up to its fundamental promise of simplifying and speeding up the cooking experience. Combined with its attractive name and sturdy form factor, consumers seem to have largely forgiven any UI shortcomings and have helped launch it into the consumer product Hall of Fame with word-of-mouth referrals and organic online buzz.

Beyond Meat: Retraining Meat-Eaters

Similar to how Instant Pot appealed to a new market of home cooks, Beyond, too, made it clear they weren’t only for vegetarians when they became the “world’s first plant-based burger sold in the meat case of U.S. grocery stores.” That said, we can probably thank Millennial vegetarians for being among early adopters who spread the word of a superior patty to their omnivore friends, helping create a plethora of burger comparison videos on the web — another example of organic marketing (no pun intended).







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