New Product Development. Moving to the Launchpad

Mar 12, 2015

Gill R&D NPD LaunchSeamless integration

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;

  • 80% of the volume that a new product generates will be determined in the first six to nine months
  • Companies with robust strategic launch plans have almost double the launch success rate compared to companies that have weak or no launch strategies
  • Products supported by a robust support strategy will earn two to four times the revenue of other equal products not supported by a launch programme
  • More contentiously, it has been stated that the most important differentiator of a new product launch is the strength of the launch programme itself, more so than the actual product attributes

Gill R&D NPD Launch

It's never too early to start

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.


It's not over yet

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.

  1. Did the product come out when planned? There are many reasons that can delay a launch; from development to manufacturing to finance. Did any delay impact sales or harm the brand? Was there any bad publicity or customer backlash?
  2. Was the timing correct? Timing is an important element in releasing a new product. Did it meet the needs of the market at the right time? Was the technology acceptable to the market and was it useful. If the product has spent a long time in development the market may have moved past its usefulness, causing resistance amongst customers to purchase what they perceive as already out of date.
  3. How did the market respond? How did the market react to your new product-was it positive, negative or lukewarm? It is important to look at the reasons why your target audience did or did not purchase from you. Feedback from customers is very important, good or bad, so the products strengths can be developed and weaknesses eliminated.
  4. How did the sales team react? Sales can provide feedback about the product and the launch. Key areas to be evaluating are: Feedback, Promotional Materials and Training Material, Marketing Materials and Customer Feedback. This input can feed into refining both the current product and refine future launches.
  5. Were the customer support channels in place? Products can fail because the infrastructure required to support the product was not ready or properly established. Was there sufficient product education to enable customer questions to be answered fully? Did the ordering system make an easy customer journey? Could customers find the product and place an order easily? Were the products delivered within an acceptable timescale?

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 as we continue to look at aspects of this crucial activity.

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