We recently sat down with Occasions Ltd VP Product Development, Joe Pellettieri, to discuss his experience in retail and developing hit products for a toy company. He talked about some of his greatest successes and failures and shared some great stories.
Hit products come in all shapes and sizes, but learning how they came to be is an important part of understanding what it takes to build a successful product. Here’s what Joe Pellettieri had to say about it on his episode of Product Talk.
On how a background in retail helped prepare him for developing hit products.
For Pellettieri, seeing how department stores and grocery stores handled everything was the most valuable further education he could have asked for.
“Retail was the best training I could have hoped for, for understanding what sells and how to merchandise.”
On his process for developing new products.
When Pellettieri started in product, he didn’t have the same resources available. He’d get inspiration from catalogs and the early days of eBay. Now, he puts some more modern options to use.
“You have to work pretty far out, but it’s a year-round process. It’s not like I start with a blank sheet of paper. I visit a lot of stores. I look at a lot of higher-end stores, department stores, specialty stores. See what they’re doing, because most of my customers are mass/drug/grocery specialty. So, how can I take something that they’re doing at a higher price point and modify it? Cut some cost out of it. Make it a mass item. Also, I look at Pinterest, Etsy, Google Images.”
On the need for a high hit rate for seasonal products.
There are no do-overs when you have a short window to sell a seasonal product.
“We don’t do any testing in the seasonal business, because you really can’t react to it within the season. If something blows out. In Halloween, when you first get in there, you can’t get it back in the stores to dissolve being shipped from China.”
On what makes a great product.
Answers like this come from great product managers.
“Well, for me, it’s all about the smile. So many of the projects I’ve worked on are based upon humor. I figure if we can get them to smile, then there’s a chance they’re gonna buy it.”
About the speaker
Some people may know Joe Pellettieri as the creator of Big Mouth Billy bass, but he’s no one hit wonder. Pellettieri has worked in product management for 22 years and has helped to create many hit items you likely know. He’s currently the VP of Product Development at Occasions Ltd, concentrating on Halloween, Christmas and all seasonal items. Prior to moving into product management, Pellettieri spent time in retail and learned how to merchandise and what sells.