No single product is like another; therefore each will follow a slightly different trajectory to market. The following 7 stages describe the critical milestone best describing the process in taking a concept to a fully assembled and packaged product for sale.
The beginning of one stage does not signal the termination of the previous, rather a continuation towards the next milestone. Each stage has aspects that continue through to many stages. For instance, one would likely have a rough idea of the look and feel of their invention long before the Beta Test or Market Development stages. Though once in the Beta Test stage’s focus groups come back with glowing reviews, the Market Development stage’s larger scope may indicate the need for a slight redesign, taking it back to Beta Testing.
1. Idea Generation
- Well-conceived idea, critical look at strength and weaknesses.
- What benefits will the product provide?
- Meets consumer need or want, eliminate (Will the customer in the target market benefit from the product?)
2. Product Research
- Becoming a viable design
- Prior art search and how do similar products function
- Best way to implement concept (Is it technically feasible to manufacture the product?)
- Who is the target market and who is the decision maker in the purchasing process?
- What product features must the product incorporate?
- Prove feasibility through virtual computer aided rendering.
- Begin branding the product
3. Business Assessment
- Investigate intellectual property issues and search patent databases
- Determine business structure of product company.
- Pursue preliminary patent, though further product development may inherently require new protection
- Patent drafting
- What is the size and growth forecasts of the market segment / target market?
- What is the current or expected competitive pressure for the product idea?
- Estimate likely selling price based upon competition and customer feedback
- Estimate profitability and break-even point
- Estimate sales volume based upon size of market
- Resource estimation
4. Beta testing
- Prototype and market test
- Produce a physical prototype or mock-up
- Low cost and functional
- Determine cost effectiveness of a production product
- Re-prototype ßàMarket Test (Make adjustments where necessary)
- Proof of concept
- Conduct focus group customer interviews or introduce at trade show
- Produce an initial product run and sell it in a test market area to determine customer acceptance
- Refinements to development ensuring the product fills the consumer desire
5. Market Development
- How will consumers react to the product
- Produce an initial run of the product and sell it in a test market area to determine customer acceptance
- Produce and place advertisements and other promotions
- Media campaign
- Long & short form infomercials
- Media buy
- Publish technical communications such as data sheets
- Finalize Quality management system
- How and who will make the actual product pieces
- package each unit
- Supplier collaboration
- Fill the distribution pipeline with product
- Critical path analysis is most useful at this stage
- Forecast of unit volumes, revenue, and profit