The characteristics of innovative, mechanical products

Matthew N. Saunders, Carolyn C. Seepersad, Katja Hölttä-Otto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Many new products fail upon introduction to the marketplace, but a few products are exceptionally successful, earning innovation awards and other benchmarks of success. To better understand the features of those innovative products, 197 award-winning products are analyzed to identify the characteristics that distinguish those products from the competition. For the analysis, a set of product-level characteristics is identified and organized into categories, which include functionality, architecture, external interactions, user interactions, and cost. Based on their innovation award citations, the products are analyzed with respect to the set of characteristics, and results are tabulated. Several award-winning products are also compared with competitive products on the shelves of major retail stores. On average, award-winning products display multiple characteristics of innovation. Overall, a vast majority (more than two-thirds) of the award-winning products exhibit enhanced user interactions, with a similar percentage displaying enhanced external interactions, compared with approximately one-third of products offering an additional function and approximately half displaying innovative architectures. The award-winning products also exhibit an average of approximately two more characteristics than their competitors on retail shelves, along with significantly higher rates of innovative architecture, external interactions, and user interactions. The analysis concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for engineering design methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number021009
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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