How to Develop a New Product Idea

New product development is increasingly important to future revenue.
New product development is increasingly important to future revenue. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Chances are if you stroll down the aisle of your local supermarket, you will see new products on the shelves you did not see the last time you shopped. Super Market Guru estimates 15,000 new food products are developed each year by companies in the fiercely competitive food processing industry, but less than 20 percent will be successful. Food processors, as well as other industries, need to be ahead of the game in new product development, and it takes a clear product development process for that to happen.

Things You'll Need

  • Market research data pertaining to customer needs
  • An agreed upon structure for product development

Develop a flexible product development process. Every new product development project has different needs. Rigid processes encourage management to "go by the book," thus discouraging new ideas from coming to the fore. Development processes can be simple or complex and need to be tailored to fit the industry or product under consideration. It is imperative that each person in the organization involved with new product development understand the process and his role in it.

Make sure your product development team includes cross-functional groups. New product development is not the sole purview of your Research and Development department. If you include only designers, you may realize that the product is too difficult to manufacture only after much time and money has been spent.

Develop a set of metrics to let every team member know how well the development process works. Metrics allow everyone to see what progress has been made and whether the process is over or under budget and can also serve as a rallying point to spur on the development team. Metrics need to be easily explained and accessible to all.

Review the process post-launch. If you were late getting to market, or the product development was well over budget, make an effort to learn from the experience so you can carry your knowledge to the next new product. To do a proper review, you must make an honest assessment of every step of the process.

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