Product Development: New and Improved

Have you ever seen the new and improved packaging on your favorite products? Of course the company knows it’s new, but how do they know it’s “improved?” This is a product undergoing a repositioning phase. Basically, it has been changed to meet the needs of consumers based on updated research and competitive analysis. This is a very common form of product development, and for better or worse, all products must bow to the marketplace.

The first phase of product development is known as the Fuzzy Front End. This process incorporates brainstorming a concept and researching all fronts including focus groups, salespeople, trade shows, trends, and the competition. Best practices for this process are widespread, including a simple three-step method to make sure that ideas are tracked. This method also includes promoting idea generation throughout the entire company and assigning personnel to assess ideas and give feedback to the idea generators.

The next phase is idea screening. Ideas are further scrutinized to make sure they are good before devoting portions of the budget to their development. The idea screeners have to ask a few questions about the feasibility of creating the product before moving forward. A best practice in this area includes screening the product against the company’s marketing strategy, profitability and sales, and with the actual key customers or buyers.

Product development then turns to include concept development and testing. This is where the engineers come into play, crafting the physical details that will go into the product itself. Some of the best practices here include creating a matrix and scoring each component of the product. The areas with the highest scores are considered the most sound, while the lower ones need some more work.

After the concept is created, business analysis is conducted to see how well the product will do in the market. A selling price is set and break even analysis is likewise carried out to determine how many product units will need to be sold to make a profit. Two more steps come into play here, including beta testing and market planning, as well as technical implementation. These steps help ensure the product will do well and that there is a contingency plan in place.

All of these phases require an in-depth knowledge of how the product development method unfolds. This is why it is so important to have well-trained personnel every step of the way to ensure a smooth transition from idea to physical product. From the idea generators to the engineers to the marketing team, everyone must understand product development from concept to completion.

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