When new products are needed to replace those coming to the end of their product life cycles in order to keep up with market changes, it’s known as new product development. The time scale from development to launch can change depending on the business; in the chemical industry, for example, development work can be taking place on products that may not reach the market for ten years. New products go through five stages whilst being developed.
The first stage is when firms generate ideas for new products. This can occur in a variety of ways, including identifying gaps in the market; scientific research; open discussions and analysing other products.
The second stage is to analyse the ideas generated in the first stage. There are many questions to be answered at this stage, one of the most important beings whether or not the product is marketable. It needs to be decided whether or not the product fits with the company’s objectives, whether it is legal and if the technology is available to produce it.
The third stage is the development of the product, possibly involving technical development in a laboratory or the production of a prototype. The design of the product is also very important at this stage. Tests on customers may be carried out to see whether or not the product meets customer needs.
Test marketing is when a new product is tested on a small, representative selection of the market. It’s important that this test audience share similar characteristics to the target market as a whole. The benefits of test audiences are the high degree of reliability offered by the results. Test marketing can often be costly and businesses do run the risk of allowing competitors to see the new products, offering them the chance to take counter-measures before a national launch.
Commercialisation and Launch
The final stage is the launch of a product. Any problems found during test marketing must be resolved. A marketing package is then decided upon to give the product the greatest chance of success. As many ideas are often rejected throughout the process, few end up getting launched.