If a product is going to succeed, it needs to be made. That seems obvious, and it is. However, I would argue that for a product to succeed in any social impact sense it also needs to be M.A.D.E.
What do I mean by that? Simply put, if a product or services is going to help people significantly impact the problem it is meant to address it needs to have the four following attributes:
The product fits into the lives of the people who will use it and helps them meet a need they currently have, in a significant way.
Example: I don’t have any lighting built into my home but I still need a way to light my living space after dark. A solar-powered, portable lamp that could light my home would be meaningful – it has a utility I can easily understand and apply to my life.
People can afford, purchase, understand, maintain/repair, and use the product.
Example: If that lamp was priced so that I could afford it; if it was available in my local shop; if I could intuitively grasp how to both charge it and turn it on/off; if I could buy replacement bulbs when the originals burnt out; and, if I was able to consistently light my home, then the lamp would be accessible – I am able to get my hands on one and make use of it.
People want the product and are willing to go out of their way, and make sacrifices, to get one.
Example: I really like that lamp. It’s size/shape/color/utility really appeal to me. In my community it would certainly not be an embarrassment to own one and it might even be a status symbol. That lamp is desirable – I want one.
The product does what it was intended to do.
Example: My lamp works great. It fills my home with light, recharges with the solar panel provided, lasts as long as I expected on a charge, and generally solves my lighting problem. This product is effective – it helps me meet my needs and I am happy.
While this perspective might be a bit simplistic, it can still be immensely helpful when we are thinking about developing a product for social impact. So keep this in mind: before you proceed too far down the path of introducing a product into the world, make certain it very clearly and positively meet these requirements – otherwise it will never get M.A.D.E.