7 products created by startups as a direct result of customer requests
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- "The customer is always right" goes the old adage. "Always" is a strong word choice, but retail companies can't deny the power and influence that customers can have over the product development process.
- Agile startups are often able to quickly spot and address customer demands for a new product or style.
- When they work collaboratively with customers to bring them what they want, the final product is inevitably a success.
Though retail companies have dedicated product developers and marketers to determine what products to release next, they do often take into consideration the feedback and requests of their loyal customers. After all, without customers, these brands wouldn't be able to succeed as they do, so it behooves them to listen with open ears.
For startups, the timeline between noticing a common customer demand and bringing it to market is sped up. Unshackled by the bureaucracies of a legacy company, the small teams tend to be able to move more nimbly and interact with their fans in more creative, efficient ways.
These conversations between brand and customer strengthen loyalties and make customers feel more like active collaborators instead of passive bystanders in the product development process. In the end, both parties win: customer gets exactly what they want, and startup is rewarded with sales.
See 7 popular startup products that were created as a direct result of customer demand below — unsurprisingly, they were hits.
Tommy John women's underwear
Shop women's underwear at Tommy John, starting at $20
Read our review of Tommy John women's underwear here
Since launching in 2008 with ultra-comfortable men's underwear and undershirts, Tommy John has been fielding requests for women's underwear. A photo of a woman wearing its boxer briefs and extolling its virtues finally convinced the founders it was time to design a collection to specifically address the underwear woes of women.
The underwear comes in three types of fabric (Air, Cotton, and Second Skin), and they're all very soft and stretchy. They never bunch, roll, or show panty lines, so it's no wonder they're our pick for the best women's underwear you can buy. Available in six different cuts, they are a little expensive starting at $20 a pair, but we feel they're definitely worth it.
Shop the Tread Court Sneaker at Everlane, $98
Read our review of the Everlane Tread sneaker here
Everlane has been making shoes like flats and heels for years, but only introduced its brand new sneaker brand, Tread, in 2019. It's calling them the world's lowest-impact sneakers, using recycled and natural rubber for the soles, leather from a Gold-certified tannery (meaning it meets high environmental standards) for the body, and recycled plastic for the laces and lining.
Our resident sneaker expert Amir described them as such: "The overall design isn't groundbreaking, but what makes them feel special is Everlane's ability to strip away wasteful materials while maintaining such a classic look."
Made In wok
Shop the Blue Carbon Steel Wok at Made In, $99
Made In offers top-quality cookware staples (non-stick pans, saucepans, knives) at affordable prices, but its most loyal fans still felt like their stovetops were missing an important specialty pan. It turns out everyone really wanted a wok, so a wok this top chef-backed kitchen brand created. You can now cook up restaurant-quality stir fry right at home.
Made In's wok has a flat bottom instead of a traditionally round one, making it more practical to store, and it's made from carbon steel, a material that's lightweight, heats quickly, and also retains heat exceptionally well.
Shop the Tree Breezer at Allbirds, $95
Read our review of the Allbirds Tree Breezer here
A challenge to knit flats brand Rothy's has emerged, and it's proven to be a worthy competitor indeed. Though women love Allbirds sneakers like the signature Wool Runner or the vacation-ready Tree Skipper, they also desired a more feminine silhouette, something that would let them wear the Allbirds brand even to the office or on dates.
The Tree Breezer flat features the padded merino wool insole that fans are already familiar with, paired with uppers made from a eucalyptus textile. It also has a bouncy sole made from sugar cane. Comfortable, lightweight, and machine-washable, the Tree Breezer is yet another Allbirds hit that's made just for flats lovers.
Shop Volition beauty products at Sephora, from $12
Read our review of Volition here
Volition's best-selling Snow Mushroom Water Serum ($62) isn't the only customer-requested product from the brand. In fact, the whole model of this innovative beauty brand is based on what customers want. Members of the community submit ideas for beauty and skin-care products they want to see, and they're only made if it gathers enough support from the rest of the community.
Popular products include the above serum, which hydrates skin, minimizes pores, and promotes collagen production, as well as a daily sunscreen that doesn't leave residue or odor and resurfacing pads powered by apple cider vinegar.
Lively strapless bra
Shop the Lively No-Wire Strapless Bra, $35
Read our review of the Lively No-Wire Strapless Bra here
According to underwear and swim company Lively, when the site first launched in 2016, the most searched item was "strapless bra." It gave the people what they wanted with the Smooth Strapless ($35) and followed up with an even more comfortable no-wire option. Thousands of women joined the waitlist for this secure, lightly lined strapless bra that you'll nearly forget you're wearing.
All of Lively's underwear is shockingly affordable given their quality, and when you mix and match bras and underwear, you'll save more.
Curology cleanser and moisturizer
Start your free trial of Curology, $59.90 bimonthly
Curology makes it convenient to get a prescription acne cream for your skin and manage your progress with a board-certified dermatologist, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner. At its start, Curology only provided the personalized acne treatment, which it calls its Super Bottle, but has since added a cleanser and moisturizer to make a full three-step bundle of acne-fighting and anti-aging solutions.
The non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and paraben-free cleanser and moisturizer work together with the acne cream, so you're not sabotaging your results with ineffective skin-care products.
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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]
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