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Stages of Product Development

The stages of product development refer to the complete process of taking a product to market. The development of a product is the first stage in the product life cycle. Generally, the steps one would follow are idea generation, research, planning, prototyping, testing, sourcing, costing, and finally production.

What to consider when developing a new product.

Before spending time and money on a development process, consider whether there is a demand and reachable market for the product. In other words, think about whether the product fulfils a need and if so, who will but it, how will they buy it, and where are they?

Idea Generation

The idea is the most exciting stage of new product development. It may start as an “ah ha” moment, a gut feeling or something that has held your attention over time. But however the idea come to be, the idea itself is merely the beginning of a longer ideation process.

Brainstorming frequently and purposefully is an important part of developing the idea. If you find you are losing track of your thoughts, try the SCAMPER method. SCAMPER is an ideation method that helps you be innovative by asking questions about an existing product. Although new ideas are what we essentially strive for, rethinking an existing idea can be just as rewarding.

1. Substitute

2. Combine

3. Adapt

4. Modify or magnify

5. Put to another use

6. Eliminate

7. Rearrange

The best way to use SCAMPER is to pick an existing product and ask, step-by-step, questions regarding each of these seven elements. Try to apply the questions to benefits, touch points, attributes, markets, pricing, and any other aspect that may have relevance to your idea. If our answers seem like solutions, you are on the right track.

Examples include: Will this product be warmer if I substitute foam for faux fur? Will this product be more comfortable if I adapt the zipper by placing it differently or replacing the clasp with a button? Can I use memory foam to create an affordable or mobile orthopedic car seat?

Market Research

Research is about determining whether your product can realistically be produced and eventually sold. And of all the stages of product development, this is arguably the most important.

Research is the most critical of steps since lack of adequate market research is a sure way of developing a product that either no one wants or can’t be sold because it’s too expensive.

When doing research, go beyond statistics and online resources. Although online research will form a large part of this step, talk to people about their problems and how they would solve them in the real world. If possible, ask industry experts such as financial advisors about market trends. If someone is willing to talk to you, make a point to listen. Lastly, after product validation (the process of testing your idea with potential users to get feedback on the product’s viability), it is always a good idea to do comprehensive feasibility study and risk analysis.

Planning

We all know the saying, “An hour of planning can save you ten hours of doing.” Take time to plan your project. There are many affordable and advanced solutions that can help you put your idea on paper or screen. Your plan should include a list of all the components you will need to develop and market your product as well as a list of solutions for managing risks. Additionally, plan to utilise resources efficiently early on. Resource wastage can cost you dearly.

Prototyping

It’s time to build a sample of your product.

Prototyping is defined as a process of building a model or a draft version of a an idea. If you cannot build a prototype yourself (this will depend on the product being created) you will hire a mechanical engineer to help you design for the manufacturing process. In other word, mechanical engineers take an idea and make it manufacturing friendly. enlisting the services of a skilled mechanical engineer from the start of the product design process will save you a lot of frustration, time, and money.

Testing

Take time and test your product. Make improvements and ensure that your product is fit for purpose.

Sourcing

So, you have a working prototype. Now it’s time to source the materials, manufacturers and suppliers, services, and software you will need to sell your product. Think about everything from warehousing to shipping.

Costing

At this stage of the product development process, you will need to get your finances in order. Make sure that you know exactly what it will cost to take your product to market. It is advisable to ask a financial expert to determine the cost structure of the entire manufacturing, distribution, and marketing segments. Determining the retail price and gross margins early will help you manage financial risk. And, don’t be shy to shop around for better prices on raw materials and services. The point after all is to make a decent profit from your product.

Production and Marketing

Taking your product to market requires careful planning. Work with marketing agencies that operate in your niche. Marketing is however fluid, and you should work with your marketing company rather than handing them the reigns. Reputable marketing agencies will ensure that the buyers journey is mapped out so that the right campaigns are run at the right time.

What if I fail to take my new product to the market?

Every failure is a step to success. So, never give up on your product ideas. If you can solve a problem for an industry, mother, pet owner, factory, school, (or any other), with an innovative and sustainable product, you are halfway there.