Launching a product will not happen over night. It takes time, horsepower, creativity and smarts to launch a successful product. We will walk you through each stage, from concept to launch, to help guide your new product development efforts:
Idea generation can consumer 50% of the development time, notes Preston Smith and Donald Reinertsen in their book, Developing Products in Half the Time. It will help you explore what is both possible and impossible. Idea generation is sometimes referred to as the “fuzzy front end.” The “fuzzy” comes from the large amount of ideas that will not all work, but through research and analysis you can bring clarity to your efforts.
To get inspired, consider reviewing industry trends. For instance, blur Group found a large surge in the crowdsourcing trend and built a company around the concept. Or, host creative work sessions. If you do host a creative work session, be sure bring in many different parts of your company, such as an account executive — you never know where your next million dollar idea is going to come from. For instance, the famous Shreddies campaign was developed by an advertising intern.
Developing the Concept
A major element in the concepting stage is research. You will need gather market research to determine your audience and their needs. Who is being underserved and what product benefits can you offer them to meet their needs? For instance, Apple found there wasn’t a phone that appealed to creatives.
At this point, you are equipped with many brilliant ideas, and now it’s time to determine which best meets your audience needs. For instance, Jet Blue found by creating a “jetting” experience, they could appeal to a younger demographic. In their brainstorming sessions the Jet Blue team could have brainstormed TVs, designer and / or massaging chairs and healthy food would appeal to this audience.
At this point you have several ideas that you feel will uniquely benefit your target audience. Now it’s time to strength-test through customer feedback. An effective way of gathering valuable customer feedback is through focus groups. Maybe Jet Blue brought in a sampling of their target demographic and asked them what they thought of the designer chairs. After several focus groups, Jet Blue might have found such a feature would not be that important to young “jetters” but a personal TV would.
To determine a new product’s profitability, estimate the development costs and weigh them against competitors pricing. Can you realistically compete based on production costs? What is your break even point and when will you turn a profit? At this point you might need to re-tool some of your features to reduce costs or you might determine that moving forward would be unwise.
Beta testing is done by strategically launching your product in specific markets. Determine which markets with the largest opportunity. For instance, in Rochester, NY, a health-eatery opened in the summer time. Portions were small, but fresh and prices comparatively high. Over the summer, sales were up. The major misstep in the restaurant owners strategy was the winter. No one wants to eat skimpy portions in Rochester, NY during the cold season. Winters are cold and comfort food is a staple. Lesson is, select the best test market and consider big-picture. The health eatery has since closed, but had they moved further south, they might have thrived.
To successfully launch a product, you must have all of you ducks in a row: suppliers, manufacturers, marketers and all other elements that will put your product in the hands of your customers or get them flying on your “jet.” After several months of fine-tuning and making sure everything is on track, step back and evaluate your performance. Are you achieving your goals? If you are missing them, determine why. Do you need more marketing or do you need to make pricing adjustments? This final stage can be radically different for each venture based on market performance.
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