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5 Tips for Product Development

A successful new product launch can be a “game changer” for any company. Many of the normal items on the check list of a typical Product Developmentteam are usually considered.

The value proposition to the customer should be compelling and easily understandable. The economics including sourcing components, freight in, manufacturing, warehousing, freight out, packaging, displays, shrink, and returns should be tightly calculated and challenged to a reasonable and attainable product margin goal. Also, most companies test the product in various situations to provide confidence in the company investment. The following are additional tip that can be helpful:

Packaging Details– Many companies allow uneducated opinions, usually of the executive team, about packaging determine the final product. Subtle changes to colors, messages, and materials can have a remarkable change in customer response rates and sell through. No matter how unified the company opinions, the value of testing packaging with real customers is worth the expense and time.

Customer Experience – Have your team take the time to experience the product as a customer. Everything from opening the package, reading the directions, assembly, and use of the product should be analyzed and considered. Sometimes small adjustments can make the experience and the customer perception improve. Even things like slightly improving the paper quality or wording of print materials can make the customer experience improved.

Bring the Marketing in Early – In many companies the Marketing Department are first clued in about a new product just prior to launch. Marketing is then asked to develop the content is a short period of time. My experience with Marketing, Sales, and Product Development is that getting Marketing personnel involved early in the process is helpful. Especially now with Social Media and the expectation of large amounts of content including stories, videos, images, copy, call outs, and more.

Observe the Shopping Experience – If you have a store use it as a sandbox. If you are an online company, observe the shopping. However possible, watch your customers shop and ask questions to shoppers buying the product as well as shoppers moving past the product. What was compelling? What was a turnoff? This information will likely include issues that you never thought of before. This feedback is critical to make adjustments prior to a nationwide launch.

Shipping Testing – If you are shipping direct to consumers, ship numerous test boxes. I like to implement numerous Drop Kick tests prior to shipping. The Drop Kick test is just as it sounds; violently drop and kick the box into a brick wall. Even fragile and glass items should be Drop Kick tested. If you are shipping product to stores or warehouses, simulate the experience as much as possible. Even if you think you are sure what will happen, the simulation will likely provide some information.

Each detail of a new product launch is critical. Don’t assume anything. You only get one chance to give a first impression to your customers.

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