An Economist’s Perspective

Product development projects typically start with a team of engineers picking apart the product concept; thinking about the engineering challenges; and figuring out how they will tackle development of this new product. Usually there is a project manager who prepares a project plan in Gantt chart form to track progress and manage the team. Often an industrial designer will be part of the team, with a focus on human factors engineering.

All of these skills can contribute to development of the new product, but sometimes one more perspective can be helpful.

Clint started his career as an economist before transitioning to product development. This background can bring a new perspective to product development – a perspective that sometimes adds a lot of value.


At the start of each project, Clint typically asks the following:

  • What is the market for this new product or service?
  • Who will buy this product? Who will use it?
  • What unmet needs does this product solve?
  • What are direct and indirect competitors to this product?
  • Are there features we can include in the product that makes it different from and meaningfully better than the competition?
  • What will it cost in time and money to develop the product?
  • What selling prices do we need to make sure the product can meet sales goals?
  • What cost of goods do we need to hit to make sure the profit margin will yield a healthy return on investment?
Asking these questions at the beginning of a project will help you define products that meet market needs and targets for profitability, and can help you avoid the all too common blunder of engineers developing a solution in search of a problem. If you would like an economist’s perspective on a new project, please contact Clint.