In our last article on New Product Development, we looked at the stages involved in developing an idea into a developed product. This is not a stand-alone activity, however.
An equally important and integrated activity is the product launch. This is not a bolt-on process that is undertaken when the product is complete, boxed and ready for despatch, nor does it run alongside product development in parallel. To fully realise the investment being expended in NPD, the product launch must be completely integrated into the process using the same team-engineering, marketing, sales, supply chain and customer support.
Research shows that;
Why is this integration so important?
Firstly the development of the product and the launch will share most of the research, development and business case data generated through the earlier stages of the NPD. Key elements of launching and marketing a product - strategic objectives, customer analysis, market analysis and distribution plan – are also the primary elements in defining the product itself.
By using the same research information, sharing and exchanging the constraints and needs of manufacture and selling, a launch plan will be created that fits the product and vice-versa.
It also helps eliminate duplication and costly miscommunication errors. NPD is an expensive process; it pays not to add to these in both time and money.
Planning and delivering all the elements of a product launch plan cannot be done hurriedly. Some activities of getting a product to market – user manuals, distribution, trade shows, for example – can have long lead times and require multiple iterations.
Complete integration also keeps all the elements on the same timescale, so that an unexpected delay does not leave a launch plan without a product, for example.
Today's marketplace is fast and competitive. Without having a structured and disciplined approach to NPD and marketing, the risks of a new product failing are substantially increased before it has an opportunity to establish itself.
Just getting the product to market is not sufficient. To generate the success required to provide a positive return-on-investment requires an ongoing analysis and development of the product and its marketing messages.
Here are five questions to form the basis of the post launch review.
A post launch review is essential in understanding how objectives were met, what worked and what did not. Product and range development should not stop after the launch. This review will define ongoing refinements and iterations of the specification and product range. It will also help inform future NPD projects.
NPD is an extensive, expensive and critical company function. Visit us again at gillrd.com as we continue to look at aspects of this crucial activity.
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