When launching new products, so much of the product development and marketing is done without any outside perspective. However, the internal teams who come up with the concept often have an emotional attachment, making it difficult to divorce themselves from their own personal feelings to view the product from the customer’s perspective. This may help explain why, according to research conducted by Nielsen, 85% of new products launched in a year are expected to fail, and only about 2% go on to sell more than $50 million, the benchmark for a successful launch.
Skipping product development research can be a critical mistake. Conducting market research upfront provides an opportunity to involve your customers and evaluate the product from their point of view. After all, they are the ones who will be using the product.
When companies do research, another mistake that’s commonly made is waiting until late in the development when the product is about the launch. In this post, we’ll share some benefits of testing early in the development process, when you are brainstorming and exploring your initial concepts. It’s important to get feedback from your intended customers at this stage to check that your concepts will be viable in the market.
Here are a few suggestions on how to use research intelligence to help fuel your development process:
Brainstorm New Product Concepts
Just as successful authors suffer occasionally from ‘writer’s block,’ your team might sometimes struggle to identify the next great idea. This was the case for a CPG client who came to us needing some creative ideas for their new product development pipeline. We designed and facilitated a series of focus group workshops to help them identify customers’ unmet needs and brainstorm some new concepts. Prior to coming to the discussion, participants completed a journal detailing their household demographics, cooking style and challenges, and behaviors relating to the product categories being evaluated. The insights gave our client a better understanding of their customers, so they could keep the end user in mind throughout development.
Identify and Optimize Your Best Ideas
In another example, a client had many ideas for new products…too many, in fact. A manufacturer came to us with 63 new product concepts they had brainstormed internally, but they only had the resources to move forward with one or two ideas. Focus groups were held with their primary target audience, professional electricians/contractors, to identify the top product concepts based on the features, functionality, durability, and potential price points. While not their primary market, we also did focus groups with consumer DIY’ers to understand the products that would appeal to this audience. Learning about alternate markets can be beneficial, as there can be more growth opportunities when expanding your product offering to include a wider audience.
Validate Your Idea Before Investing in Development
It’s estimated that 45% of product development resources go to ventures that do not succeed. Market research can help catch flawed concepts early on before you’ve invested significant time and money in something that isn’t viable in the market. As an example, a client recently came to The DRG with an idea for a new product they were considering. Unfortunately, after some qualitative research, we learned that there just wasn’t much interest in the idea and consumers did not see value in using the product. This probably wasn’t the result our client wanted, but our findings were well received because they learned how their market felt before proceeding with full development. In addition, the product development research identified a few features that were of interest to participants, so the client was able to redesign the product focusing on these features.
Remember to engage potential buyers early in the product development process. Sure, you may have limited resources and a crunched timeline. However, taking a step back to get customer input, even if it’s simply a few interviews or a couple of exploratory focus groups, is well worth the investment and will help prevent becoming another statistic in the list of failed new product launches.