SCAMPER Technique

Developing new ideas for products and services is one of the hardest parts of being in business. Getting a business started with a small collection of products or services is hard enough on its own – but the real challenge comes in trying to stay relevant year after year.

SCAMPER Technique

Very few businesses are able to succeed by selling the same thing for decades. More likely, you are going to need to innovate on a regular basis along the way if you are going to stay a step or two ahead of the competition. Ultimately, it may be the creativity of you and your team that will determine how well you do in the open market. Only the companies who consistently take new and exciting products and services to market are going to hold on to an audience over the long run.

If you find that developing these new ideas is an ongoing challenge for your company, the SCAMPER Technique may be able to assist. SCAMPER is an acronym which stands for the following –

  • Substitute
  • Combine
  • Adapt
  • Modify
  • Put to another use
  • Eliminate
  • Reverse

Each of those points is meant to spur thinking with regard to one of your existing products or services. In other words, when thinking about your existing product line through the lens of those seven points, you just may be able to think of new products that could serve your market.

The Seven Components of the SCAMPER Technique

Rather than trying to start from scratch, the SCAMPER Technique is going to help you find new ideas from within those products and services that you already offer.

Below, we have listed each of the seven concepts with SCAMPER, along with a short discussion.

Substitute

Though one simple substitution, it is often possible to make a product or service into something completely different. For instance, if you substituted one material within a product for another, you might quickly appeal to an entirely new segment of the market. By substituting plastic for metal, you could produce a lower-cost item that may be attractive to a budget shopper. Or, you could do the opposite by subbing in metal for plastic, and suddenly you would have a higher-end item to sell at a premium. Work through your entire product line and think about any kind of substitutions which may position you to sell a new item.

Combine

Here you are going to think about bringing together two of your products into a new product that may appeal to a larger market (or, at least, to a different market). Since you have a product line that likely fills needs within the same general market, there is a good chance that two or more of your products could work together nicely. This could be something as simply as bundling the products together on store shelves, or you could actually combine their functions into an entirely new product.

Combine, Adapt and Modify

Adapt

It may be that you already have a product or service in your line which is just a tweak or two away from big success. Do any of your products have big potential that has not yet been tapped because of one or two small flaws? By adapting your offerings specifically to the market that you have found in the real world, you may be able to find a whole new audience without actually having to innovate anything that is truly new. Making small adjustments is usually a cost effective way of developing a product that is going to serve a different market segment.

Modify

The point above regarding adapting to the market is slightly different from this point, which speaks more so to modifications you can make to the product itself. In this case, you are going to modify a specific product to make it better in some fundamental way. This could overlap with adapting to the market however, if you have heard from customers that they would prefer your item if it had certain different characteristics. It is incumbent on any organization to continually modify their products to improve them over time, as the competition will quickly pull ahead if you decide to just assume your offerings are already good enough.

Put to Another Use

This is perhaps one of the most-exciting concepts in this entire model, as it can open your products and services up to entire new markets in short order. Take a look at the current markets that you serve and think about the possibility of taking your current offerings to new markets in another form. Could you repackage one of your existing items and then sell it successfully to an entirely new audience? Or, could you combine this point with the one above on modification to slightly tweak your product for sale in a new place? When you are looking for expansion opportunities for your business, putting products to a new use is a great place to start.

The SCAMPER Technique, Put to Another Use, Eliminate, and Reverse

Eliminate

Addition by subtraction is a common way to succeed in business, and that is the underlying idea with this point. Rather than eliminating entire products from your line, the idea here is to eliminate certain features or materials from a given item in order to make it a more valuable part of your portfolio. Eliminating a frustrating feature could make the item more attractive on the market, or eliminating a given material could make it less expensive to produce (improving your profit margin).

Reverse

The final point within this technique is basically a total rethink of some of your products or services. When something isn’t performing up to the level that you had expected, think about turning the product on its head in order to find better performance. Did you get something backwards in the design or planning on the product that has caused it to be a disappointment? Opening your mind up to seeing the product from a new perspective will hopefully shed a different light on the situation.

It can take a tremendous amount of time and energy to think through all of your products and services using the SCAMPER Technique. However, when you have taken the time to do so, you will likely come away with an incredible number of ideas you can pursue moving forward. If even just one or two of those ideas turns into a big success, you will be extremely glad that you invested the effort required to use this method.

You can read more about the SCAMPER Technique in our free eBook ‘Creative Thinking for Managers’. Download it now for your PC, Mac, laptop, tablet, Kindle, eBook reader or Smartphone.

Key Points

  • The SCAMPER Technique is designed to help you find new ideas from within those products and services that you already offer, rather than trying to innovate from scratch.
  • SCAMPER is an acronym which stands for: substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to another use, eliminate, and reverse.
  • Through one simple substitution, it is often possible to make a product or service into something completely different.
  • Think about combining two or more parts of your product or process or to enhance synergy.
  • By adapting your offerings specifically to the market that you have found in the real world, you may be able to find a whole new audience without actually having to innovate anything that is truly new.
  • Think about which parts of the product or process could be modified to change it in some important way.
  • Take a look at the current markets that you serve and think about the possibility of taking your current offerings to new markets in another form.
  • Eliminating a frustrating feature could make the item more attractive on the market, or eliminating a given material could make it less expensive to produce.
  • Reverse means thinking about turning the product on its head in order to find better performance.
  • When thinking about your existing product line through the lens of those seven points, you just may be able to think of new products that could serve your market.

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