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Archive for the ‘Product Development’ Category

Innovation and creative thinking of few technology specialists lead to the development of new products. Every product oriented companies has developed their own standard process and control frameworks for any new product development (NPD) with the experience of various products introduction into the market. Most inventors are found to be more focused on the technical aspects of the product and advancement of that technology. This attitude often compels the Product Development Team (PDT) to miss most of the crucial consumer behaviours and actual market requirements into the product features and specifications. This issue of less market oriented focus in product development is more visible in SMEs than big companies because of the absence of dedicated business analysts and resources to undertake thorough and continuous market analysis and sensing. The key wisdom worth reminding here is “Customers look for solutions to their problems not products”.

The baseline for deciding what to include in the product features and specifications depends on the understanding of customer needs and market sales feasibility. “New technology defines the demand of customer needs, or, Customer needs define the demand of new technology”. Arguments can be created on either side of the hypothesis. Yet, earlier the adoption of product comparison analysis in the phases of NPD cycle, better the success rate of product introduction into the market.

Product comparison analysis can refer not just only about the features comparison of the products in the market (such as specifications, price, qualities, looks, usage guidelines, etc) but also the entire 4Ps (i.e. Price, Product, Promotion, and Place). There can be two levels of war among the companies for similar product introduction into the market viz., product level, and business level. Successful product introduction demands the need for successful strategies at both the levels that can outbid the planning of competitors.

At the product level, PDT should research the market not only for any similar products already available to the consumers, but also any likely product introduction info from competitors in the near future. A comparison chart should be prepared that depicts the plus and minus of technical properties/features among the various products. This comparison chart should also include the value provided by each of the features to the customers, i.e. orienting to customer behaviours and market needs. This simple approach yet tedious analysis will provide enough clues to make proper decision what and how should be the new product.

At the business level, PDT should conduct detailed analysis of how competitors intend to introduce the product into the market, i.e. the understanding of business models and strategies used by the competitors are also crucial to successful product introduction into the market. One of the suggested approaches herein is “Blue Ocean Strategy”, so that the business approach of the company makes the competition with the other companies irrelevant. Customization of products (in terms of feature contents and applications, etc) can be done based on the business requirements and spontaneous market needs. Business level competition may involve scenarios such as fast supply chain management approach, low cost production approach, premiere customer experience approach, etc. PDT should have market sensing info about the product it is developing so as to provide timely feedbacks into the process for necessary actions.

Any NPD does involve high risk of financial investment and huge commitment of the PDT throughout the product life cycle. The war to successful product introduction into the market does not end right after the first product launch, but the company still has to come up with continuous improvement strategies to sustain competitive advantages over the likely new product introduction by the competitors in few months afterwards soon. Herein, the criticality of product comparison analysis remains strong throughout the product’s life cycle.

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