If a business wants to succeed in today’s highly competitive economy, it needs to remain competitive and relevant in the eyes of its customers. It needs to be able to develop just the right product or service that the public needs. There is no shortcut to getting it right. The most successful companies in the world today have gone through such phases of development because they recognise their importance. This process, the New Product Introduction (NPI), can set apart a successful business from a failure and successful companies know and recognise its importance.
A business’ New Product Introduction (NPI) program involves all the mechanisms, participants, and activities that work to identify, define, create, and launch a new product. This product can be something tangible and perceptible by the senses or a program or service. NPIs can differ from one business to another, and they can even vary within the business depending on the product and its needs. NPIs require sufficient support and input from all parts of the company to succeed.
If taken literally, the introduction of a new product is the final step of a process but NPI involves the steps before that more than the actual debut. At its core, NPIs begin from the conception of an idea. Some ideas are borne from necessity, others from intuition, and a few from research. This idea is then brainstormed until it is defined and refined and takes shape. The creation of an initial working prototype is the next logical step. This involves many specialists from product engineers, to marketing, sales, and business personnel, to designers and graphic artists. Only until rigorous tests and studies will the final, reproducible product be decided for its public debut. This is the basic NPI process and all other NPIs are derivations of this process.
In addition, this process applies not only to new products but to already marketed products. Businesses conduct studies to find out the impact of their product as well as improvements they can make on it. And the rest of the process is followed as if a new product will be released.
How to do the New Product Introduction right?
Around 80% of new products that are made public will fail and be forgotten a few years from their introduction. For any business, that is a serious cause for concern, and breaking to the 20% will almost be difficult but not impossible. Any successful product launch requires a rigorous New Product Introduction that is done right. It involves many stakeholders, including those not directly part of the business like the buying public, to be optimised. An air-tight NPI will be able to meet a particular public demand both with quality and quantity. And while many businesses follow the same general New Product Introduction process, there are a few NPI practices that stand out and are essential.
1. Finding your market
While the NPI emphasises the whats and the hows of the product, one essential question that is often unanswered is the who. Many businesses often settle with marketing to all ages without putting the effort to show why and how only to find out later on that their product is only being used by a particular age group. What a waste of effort.
Identifying the details of the product’s target customers will influence much of the NPI. These details include their age, gender, civil status, income range, location, interests, hobbies, social media preferences, advertising preferences, needs, dislikes, and more. The key here is to identify as many details as possible to be able to paint a clear picture.
While that is always effective, another way is to size up the competition and find out who their target customers are. You may target the same group too or expand it to include more customers.
2. Finding your product’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
With a plethora of products available in the borderless market that we have today, finding success relies on finding your product’s own uniqueness. Think of a successful product that you use every day and I am sure you can find at least one thing about it that you have seen nowhere else. There is at least one characteristic that made it stand out from the rest especially from similar products.
Finding and highlighting your product’s particular uniqueness at a point way before its launch is of utter importance. And if you cannot find it, your product might not be ready for public use yet or it risks ending up as part of the inevitably forgotten 80%. Find something that gives your product its uniqueness so that the buying public will have the incentive to purchase it.
Once you have identified the USP, the next necessary step is to figure out how you will market the USP. This will be the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Furthermore, this may also influence the name of the product, its taglines, and promotional materials, Whenever people think of your product, they should have its USP in their mind.
3. Diversifying your marketing strategy
Before your product is made available to the buying public, it should have been seen by the buying public as much as you can. This means figuring out a marketing strategy that establishes familiarity and name recall before launch. This involves advertising, in print, in broadcasts, and even digitally. It can mean finding a brand ambassador or a social media influencer. It can even mean handing out free samples or flyers. Never settle for just one media if more are available.
Whichever way you want to market your product, plan ahead. How you do it is as important as when do you plan to do it. You need to work out all the schedules and costs ahead of time so you will have time to polish your ads and use focus groups to evaluate them.