Product Development - What? Why? To Whom?

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Did you know that, according to multiple studies, including Harvard Business Review, 80-90% of new product launches fail? There are many reasons for this, but rushing and not thinking through product development is a major factor. But what is product development, why is it useful and who is it for?

Nowadays, people often search for the best products in any category. When people buy a phone, they look at the camera, screen quality, and storage space. Washing machines should have a dryer and be able to wash a lot of clothes. They should also be small and look nice. Is this all achievable? That’s where product development comes into play.

What is product development?

Product development is a process during which a new product is created from an idea, or an existing product is changed or improved. You could address functionality, look and feel, materials, technologies etc.

The product development process itself is fairly consistent - it starts with an idea or concept and ends with a new product coming to the market. However, it also has some steps that should be customized based on what the product is if it is done well - that’s why we don’t have a generic product development process that we follow as a mantra at Raab, we like to adapt the process to the project at hand instead.

One potential product development process:

Product Development Process Example

Ideation (Idea generation)

The product development process typically starts with ideation or idea generation in simpler words. The main aim of this phase is to find potential gaps in the market, or improvement areas for already existing products. Don’t overthink in this phase, just let the ideas run wild and write everything down - you can adjust them later if needed.

Yes, we know that generating ideas could be tricky, especially in a crowded marketplace. Here are some ideas you could try:

  1. Gather feedback from your team and customers

  2. Conduct market research

  3. Check what your competitors are doing - are there any potential improvement areas?

  4. Have a think whether your current products could be adapted for other markets or whether features from different products could be combined to develop a completely new product.

  5. You could also get ideas from trade fairs and conferences or by partnering with external product development agencies or consultants

Validation (Concept selection)

Assess and prioritize the ideas generated during ideation by considering factors such as feasibility, market potential, and alignment with business goals. Discard ideas that do not meet the key criteria and keep a couple of the more promising ones.

Concept Development

Once you have chosen which product development ideas you would like to keep working on, the development phase starts. This includes the creation of product concepts and product design. In this stage, the customers’ needs are mapped out for product features and feedback is gathered from the customers. Adjustments are made to the original concepts if needed.

Prototypes & Testing

Once you have finalized the concepts, it is time to start building a prototype. Depending on the complexity of the product, product developers may use various prototyping techniques such as 3D printing, CNC machining, or digital simulations. Prototypes allow developers to evaluate the product's functionality, ergonomics, and user experience before moving into mass production.

3d printed components/prototypes

The testing and validation part encompasses various aspects such as performance testing, stress testing, reliability testing, and compliance testing. Engineers gather data, analyze results, and make necessary adjustments to optimize the product performance and address any identified issues.

It is also completely normal that whilst you are building or testing the prototype, there might be a need to return to the development phase to adjust different elements. Only once you are fully happy with the prototype and testing, should you move on to the next phase.

Production

The production phase includes production planning, set-up and manufacturing. Production is normally the most expensive stage of the product development process. For example, in addition to the normal production costs like material, labor and logistics, you might also need new machinery to organize mass production.

Product Launch

The next stage in the product development process is product launch - bringing your product to the market for the customers to buy. 

Things to think about when launching a new product

A well-thought-through marketing campaign is crucial for the successful launch of your product. 

You should identify your target audience and create buyer personas to understand what channels are best to use. Then you can start mapping out the campaign, planning PR, setting pricing strategies, producing marketing materials, and so on.

Improvements & New Developments

Next, step back and observe the performance of everything. Assess market interest, monitor usage and carefully observe the buyers of your product. Observe how users interact with the product, identify which features they like, and pinpoint areas that could be improved further.

What can product development help with?

Product development is useful in a wide variety of situations, let’s have a closer look at some of them.

  • Idea for a brand new product 

    Do you have a brilliant idea for a new product that the consumers are currently missing out on? Then you should start thinking about product development to turn the idea into reality.

  • Providing added value for a product already on the market

    If you noticed a product on the market that you think you could make more user-friendly or add value to then it is worth exploring. The important part is that the end user sees the added value as well, otherwise you might not get the results you want as the customer might not be willing to pay more for your product or switch from the current one.

  • Developing your own existing product 

    In order for your product to keep bringing in good sales figures, it needs to be developed. Consumer needs change with time and the products need to keep up with these changes or they won’t be as attractive anymore and sales figures will slowly decrease. What was a popular product 10 years ago might not fulfill customer wishes and needs in the current day.

  • Product simplification 

    People are looking for the best of the best normally, but it could also happen that a product is over-engineered trying to fulfill every customer need - even the ones that the end user might actually not see as critical. But a product that is too complicated and too expensive might not sell. Product development can also help simplify a product if this happens.

  • Reducing production costs 

    Keep costs down

    You have a product that the customers love but the production costs are high and the profit isn’t quite where it should be? In that case, it is time to have a look if small tweaks could help bring costs down without sacrificing the quality and features of the product - product development is perfect for this as well.

  • Regulatory changes

    If regulations change, companies have to ensure that their products comply with the new regulations to be able to keep selling them. Product development may be needed in this situation.

  • Risk reduction

    Businesses that only have one product or a couple of products might be at a higher risk if those products lose popularity on the market. Product development enables you to increase your product portfolio and thus reduce risks.

  • Entering new markets

    When a business plans to enter new markets, product development might be needed to make sure that the product complies with the regulations and customer needs of the target market.

So who needs product development?

The answer is quite straightforward - every business that wants to create a new product or already has a product and wants to be successful in the long term will need product development.

The competition for every product is a lot higher nowadays than it was 10 years ago - people shop online and this means that businesses worldwide are now your direct competition. This means that there is no time to snooze, every moment someone might come out with a cheaper or improved version of your product. 

Technological advancements are also happening very quickly which means that you should start thinking about improvements to your product straight away - consumer needs and interests change constantly and therefore what is expected from a product is also changing, you just need to keep up with these changes.

Not enough time or expertise in the business to do product development, which ultimately could lead to not a good enough product? Don’t worry, product development service can help with that - get in touch for more information on what we can help you with.
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