New Product Development Process
7 Steps to Your New Product Development Process
Your Guide to Bringing New Offerings to Your Customers
Many organizations rely on the ability to continually offer their customers new, different, and updated products in order to ensure that those customers continue to walk in the door. To achieve that for your own company, you will need to have a solid new product development process. To perform this effectively, there is a step-by-step process that you can follow. The trick is to make sure that you follow each of the steps carefully, from start to finish.
Though there is no single plan for every single industry, the following steps of a new product development process will work for most types of business. These steps are meant primarily for coming up with and researching breakthrough ideas. For this reason, you should be careful when interpreting the results of research.
Step 1 – Coming up with ideas
To start developing new products, you must first have an idea to develop! This makes the process of gathering ideas an essential part of any business. Idea generation should be an ongoing activity, instead of something that is done only on occasion. Make sure that your entire team knows that they are not only welcome, but are encouraged to contribute their ideas.
Come up with feedback forms on paper and on your website so that your customers will be able to use to make suggestions, as well. After all, one of the best ways to make sure that you’re offering your customers what they want is to actually ask your customers directly!
You can also have customer surveys, focus groups, or competitions inside and outside your organization to help to come up with new ideas, or to gain insight into ways that your current products can be altered and improved.
Step 2 – Evaluate ideas
As you collect the ideas that come in from various sources, you should carefully consider and evaluate them. This will allow you to screen out those that don’t appear to have enough potential for one reason or another. It should help you to whittle down your options to the most attractive few.
At this stage, you shouldn’t actually be testing anything out, yet, but should instead simply be mulling over the feasibility of each idea. Consider the potential of each idea from many different perspectives, including the profit potential, sales possibilities, production costs, and the response of competitor companies. Once you find a small number of ideas that are acceptable, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Step 3 – Development and testing of ideas
Once you have a few good ideas, it’s time to test them out and find out what the employees, distributors, and customers think. Focus groups are very handy in this phase, as well.
You can present ideas to focus groups in many ways. You might have a presentation with PowerPoint or storyboards, or you may go so far as to create a mockup of the product, which is a physical representation of the product that is typically non-functional.
Using your focus group, concentrate on discovering what people like and dislike about the idea, how much interest they have in actually purchasing it, how often they would purchase it, and how much they would be willing to spend on the purchase.
Step 4 – Create a business analysis
After step 3, you should have narrowed your potential ideas down to only one or two. Now it is time to utilize market research to discover the viability of each of the remaining ideas. Your purpose in this step is to estimate the size of the market, determine costs of production and operation, and create financial projections in terms of profits and sales. You also need to determine whether or not the product actually suits your company.
Step 5 – Develop your marketing strategy
If you wait until your product is already on the shelf to begin your marketing, then you will have waited too long and will have missed out on many initial sales opportunities. Once you know that your product idea is headed for development and eventual sale, you should begin looking at the way in which you will market it. This will mean that once it is ready to go to market, you will have properly prepared your business and its customers for the introduction and sale.
Step 6 – Test your market
When you have a prototype and have identified the way that you will be marketing the product, go ahead and test it out on your target customers. This way, when your completed product is ready for launch, then you will have a thorough understanding of how it should be unveiled. This also provides your product with some exposure with a small, select segment of your target market.
Step 7 – Bring your product to market
All of the other steps will have been preparing you for this step. Now you should be ready to bring the product to the wider marketplace for sale in the general population.
Effectively following each of these 7 new product development process steps will ensure that you will have made every effort to create the perfect new offering, that you will know how it will be received, and that you will understand how to bring it directly to the customers who will want it the most.