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Things to Know: The Stages of Product Development

The idea stage includes Generation or conceptualization, and screening.

The Stages Of Product Development

In business and engineering, new product development (NPD) is the complete process of bringing a new product to market. While some argue the number of steps in the process, one thing is clear, the basic process begins with an idea, and ends with the creation of a final product that can be sold or offered as a service. To help start-up entrepreneurs get a better grasp on the process that each idea should undergo in order to emerge from the other side of the process as a full-fledged ‘product’, we have put together this simple breakdown.

The Idea Stage

The idea stage includes Generation or conceptualization, and screening.

  • Idea Generation/Conceptualization – Whether they are the result of a carefully conducted market study or a flash of brilliance that struck a creative during the day, ideas can come from just about anywhere. Once that first flash of inspiration happens, the idea needs to be rounded out before it can be tested or screened. This involves considering the various details of the idea, doing research to make sure the idea is complete and ready to be presented to the screening and testing audience.
  • Idea Screening/Testing – The point of screening an idea is to eliminate the concepts that are unsound before you commit your resources to them. During the screening process, the screeners should ask several questions regarding the idea, such as whether or not the customer in the target market benefit from the product and whether is it technically feasible to manufacture the product. At this stage, it is also wise to examine profitability to see if it’s worth moving forward.

The Concept Stage

Once your idea is solidified and complete, it becomes a concept. The concept stage includes further development and additional testing.

  • Concept Development – at this stage, your concept is thoroughly researched. Patents, copyrights, market feasibility, design aesthetics, marketing plans, and production/development plans are all considered.
  • Concept Testing – The entire concept or idea is then presented to a test audience for feedback. Concept testing is different than test marketing, as it implies the testing of an idea and not a completed project. The point of concept testing is not so much to determine whether the marketing is performing as intended for the target, but rather to determine that the concept itself is complete, fully thought out, and not lacking any facets that need to be addressed before the product hits the market

The Analysis & Testing Stage

Now it’s time to analyze the idea from a business perspective and test its worth to see how it will perform in the market. This is one of the last chances to make changes to your concept before it launches.

  • Concept Analysis – It is important to determine how much if any, competition exists for similar products or services, the demand for the product, and estimate cost affiliated with development costs and operational costs in an attempt to determine the profit margin. This is also where you will determine the selling price.
  • Beta and Market Testing – If your idea was for a physical product, at this point, you’ll need to create a prototype in order to test it. Testing your product or service to a section of the market that will actually use it will allow you to tailor your marketing campaigns and adjust any aspect of the product that may have been overlooked during production, but was commented on by the panel.

The Production/Launch Stage

With your concept tested and perfected, the concluding stage of product development is actually sending your concept off to be produced, packaged if necessary and, eventually, sold.

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