Attribute Listing, Morphological Analysis and Matrix Analysis

Tools for Creating New Products and Services

How could this basic product be changed?

© iStockphoto/malerapaso

Attribute Listing, Morphological Analysis and Matrix Analysis are good techniques for finding new combinations of products or services. They are sufficiently similar to be discussed together. We use Attribute Listing and Morphological Analysis to generate new products and services.

How to Use the Tools

To use the techniques, first list the attributes of the product, service or strategy you are examining. Attributes are parts, properties, qualities or design elements of the thing being looked at. For example, attributes of a pencil would be shaft material, lead material, hardness of lead, width of lead, quality, color, weight, price, and so on. A television plot would have attributes such as characters, actions, locations, and weather. For a marketing strategy you might use attributes of markets open to you, uses of the product, and skills you have available.

Draw up a table using these attributes as column headings. Write down as many variations of the attribute as possible within these columns. This might be an exercise that benefits from brainstorming  . The table should now show all possible variations of each attribute.

Now select one entry from each column. Either do this randomly or select interesting combinations. By mixing one item from each column, you will create a new mixture of components. This is a new product, service or strategy.

Finally, evaluate and improve that mixture to see if you can imagine a profitable market for it.

Example

Imagine that you want to create a new lamp. The starting point for this might be to carry out a morphological analysis. Properties of a lamp might be power supply, bulb type, size, style, finish, material, shade, and so on.

You can set these out as column headings on a table, and then brainstorm variations. This table is sometimes known as a "Morphologial Box" or "Zwicky Box" after the scientist Fritz Zwicky, who developed the technique in the 1960s.

Power Supply Bulb Type Size Style Finish Material
Battery Halogen Very Large Modern Black Metal
Mains Bulb Large Antique White Ceramic
Solar Daylight Medium Roman Metallic Concrete
Generator Colored Small Art Nouveau Terracotta Bone
Crank   Hand held Industrial Enamel Glass
Gas     Ethnic Natural Wood
Oil/Petrol       Fabric Stone
Flame         Plastic

Interesting combinations might be:

  • Solar powered/battery, daylight bulb – possibly used in clothes shops to allow customers to see the true color of clothes.
  • Large hand cranked arc lights – used in developing countries, or far from a mains power supply.
  • A ceramic oil lamp in Roman style – used in themed restaurants, resurrecting the olive oil lamps of 2000 years ago.
  • A normal table lamp designed to be painted, wallpapered or covered in fabric so that it matches the style of a room perfectly.

Some of these might be practical, novel ideas for the lighting manufacturer. Some might not. This is where the manufacturer's experience and market knowledge are important.

Key Points

Morphological Analysis, Matrix Analysis and Attribute Listing are useful techniques for making new combinations of products, services and strategies.

You use the tools by identifying the attributes of the product, service or strategy you are examining. Attributes might be components, assemblies, dimensions, color, weight, style, speed of service, skills available, and so on.

Use these attributes as column headings. Underneath the column headings list as many variations of that attribute as you can.

You can now use the table or "morphological box", by randomly selecting one item from each column, or by selecting interesting combinations of items. This will give you ideas that you can examine for practicality.

Notes:

  • Attribute Listing focuses on the attributes of an object, seeing how each attribute could be improved.
  • Morphological Analysis uses the same basic technique, but is used to create a new product by mixing components in a new way.
  • Matrix Analysis focuses on businesses. It is used to generate new approaches, using attributes such as market sectors, customer needs, products, promotional methods, and so on.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Click here for more, subscribe to our free newsletter, or become a member for just $1.

Add this article to My Learning Plan

Where to go from here:

Join the Mind Tools Club

Click to join Mind Tools
Printer-friendly version
Return to the top of the page

Create a Login to Save Your Learning Plan

This ensures that you don’t lose your plan.


Connect with…

Or create a Mind Tools login. Existing user? Log in here.
Log in with your existing Mind Tools details
Lost Username or Password
You are now logged in…

Lost username or password?

Please enter your username or email address and we'll send you a reminder.

Thank You!

Your log in details have been sent to the email account you registered with. Please check your email to reset your login details.

Create a Mind Tools Login
Your plan has been created.

While you're here, subscribe to our FREE newsletter?

Learn a new career skill every week, and get our Personal Development Plan workbook (worth $19.99) when you subscribe.


Thank You!

Please check your Inbox, and click on the link in the email from us. We can then send you the newsletter.