Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Launching a new product

Once a new product development project has been specified and the brief established, a large part of the marketing task will be concerned with progressing the project from design to production. Usually there will be some schedule drawn up for this programme, whether a basic Design to Production Schedule or elaborate Gant charts and other planning tools, all of which should include not just the technical activities, but also the marketing ones as well.

There are many views on how this is approached, whether as a series of sequential activities or as an integrated simultaneous engineering exercise. Some industries are further advanced in these techniques than others. But however organised there will be certain milestones which will lead towards the launch phase. 

Milestones in the R&D phase could be initial feasibility study, prototyping, type testing and may be some market testing. There are mixed views about keeping the concept completely under wraps until it is launched and in soliciting market input at formative stages in the design and development process. 

Moving into production through tooling, planning and pre-production stages is when much of the launch programme needs to be planned and produced. In today’s competitive market place the launch programme will be committed before any pre-production products roll off the line, so prototypes may have to be creatively used in the launch material. But not only are physical examples needed for such things as photography and demonstratation, but also test data is required to support the product at launch. 

It is amazing how companies still forget this essential need and launch a new product without any means to sell and support it. One useful technique is to draw up well in advance a New Product Check List to detail the activities that are required and the timings. It is also important not to launch the product if you cannot fulfill orders. Some major new product failures can be attributed to products that didn’t work, because they weren’t really ready and products that got everyone excited, but couldn’t be delivered.

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