"Key Basics for New Products"
Phil Glowatz, Managing Principal
Phil Glowatz & Associates http://www.glowatz.com
March 9, 2001
To maximize your chances of success in developing new products, Phil Glowatz & Associates recommends applying the following key, basic principles:
1. Assemble a multi-disciplined team.
Marketing, Marketing Research and Product Development should form your core team, with Finance, Sales and Operations in an extended team. Each part of your firm is critical to a successful launch, and their early involvement averts later roadblocks. Also, great ideas sometimes come from unlikely places.
2. Set specific parameters up front.
Establishing realistic goals for the time and money you are willing to invest in
product development, and for the sales volume you need to achieve, allows you to avoid wasting effort on product ideas that do not make sense for your firm.
3. Involve end-users/purchase influencers early.
No product benefit is truly meaningful unless some segment of consumers, end-users or purchase influencers perceives it as such. Talk to your customers, and develop the features and benefits they want and need. Remember, they're the ones with the money.
4. Involve upper management early.
If management has business objectives different from yours, you lose. While this may seem obvious, it is often overlooked.
5. Challenge market research, and commonly-held beliefs about your category.
Sometimes, research is indicative only of the past, and is not predictive of the future. The product answer may be totally at odds with the research. Explore a wide range of potential solutions.
6. Look in your archives.
There can be gold buried in the failed concepts (product ideas) file. Some may have been executed poorly, while others may have been ahead of their times.
7. Be sure each concept is reducible to a positioning statement one sentence long.
Almost any product needs a single compelling benefit, stated simply, to attract consumers. Multi-part positionings can be a quick road to failure.
8. Show concepts with visuals and/or prototypes to respondents; try to avoid using abstract concept statements/descriptions.
Most people, whether they're professionals or consumers, need to see a visual element to fully grasp a product idea. This allows them to get past shape, color, etc., and focus on the positioning, features and benefits.
9. Give concepts a chance to evolve.
Early-stage concepts often have rough edges. For instance, the key benefit
presented may not be very meaningful, while the real key benefit is buried in secondary copy. Be careful not to kill product ideas and positionings too quickly.
10. Don't be afraid to go with your gut.
Concept test results can sometimes mislead. Consumers and end-users can sometimes be wrong. When your judgment nags at you, and tells you to
ignore the consumer, act on it. The best ideas are often the inspired ones.
Before You Develop a Single Idea...
Before you develop products and ideas, go to school on the category in which you intend to compete.
1. Review all relevant product and category research.
There are syndicated studies you can buy if you don't have the budget to fund studies yourself.
2. Walk through your category.
Assess your category on a personal basis, via "walk-throughs" at key retailers or distributors. What's going on in the category? How are products displayed? Which packaging elements appear to influence purchase, or otherwise stand out? If you can, visit outlets in different cities.
3. Assess current success.
For the successful brands in your product category, which are the key benefits and features that seem to be driving sales? Which are the emotional/sensory factors?
4. Assess poor performers.
For the unsuccessful brands in your product category, which benefits they are selling appear outdated? Which of their benefits appear good, but are not being exploited correctly, and can be pre-empted?
5. Assess category usage.
What are the different target audiences for each brand, and why? What are category purchase patterns? What are category behavioral patterns (usage occasions, methods, frequency, etc.)? Strongly consider conducting some focus groups, to explore problems and needs directly with consumers in your product category.
If anybody needs help, don't hesitate to contact our firm.
Phil Glowatz & Associates has helped develop successful products, positionings and repositionings for Procter & Gamble, Reynolds Metals, Pfizer, Nabisco, Invensys, Citicorp, Unilever, Godiva, Sprint, Warner-Lambert, Dow, Franklin Electronic Products, Corning, NutraSweet, Stone Mountain and others.
e-mail: phil(at)glowatz.com web: http://www.glowatz.com