Innovation is the fuel that drives our economy and helps organizations stay on the leading edge of trends and technology. A manufacturer can gain a lot by introducing a new product on the market. The competitive advantage of getting a product to market before your peers can position your company for success and demonstrate thought leadership in your industry.
While there’s a lot of excitement surrounding a new release, there’s also a lot to lose if the product launch goes poorly. Even though manufacturers often rely on a supply chain to help fulfill orders, it’s the manufacturer’s name on the label and, ultimately, they’re held responsible if something goes wrong. A successful launch begins well before the marketing campaign kicks off, so consider these steps to help mitigate the risks involved in introducing new products to the market.
1. Focus on Benefits, Not Features
Today’s consumer is inundated with thousands of advertisements every single day. Most of those ads tell people about what’s in the product instead of “what’s in it for them.” Fueled by enthusiastic R&D and marketing departments, some manufacturers develop products with a myriad of bells and whistles that are too complex or difficult for the average user. Not only do unnecessary features add confusion, they also add cost and lengthen the time it takes to get to market.
As part of your market research, evaluate which functions your target market really wants and minimize unnecessary features. This also allows your company to release “new and improved” versions down the road, meaning you can create iterations, extend product viability and can keep it top of mind.
2. Test the Waters
Developing a prototype is a good way to test product performance and conduct further market research with potential users. This allows you to gather feedback and gauge user interest beyond the concept phase. It can also reveal iterations that might need to be implemented before full production and launching to a larger market segment.
What do you do if your initial market research — which should have provided data and supporting information for pursuing product development in the first place — was flawed and you discover that actual users consider your product a dud? Learning about such potential product failures in the development phase will give you an opportunity to redesign or, worst case scenario, abort the project all together. While disappointing, making such hard decisions can save your company money and, potentially, its reputation.
3. Set Realistic Expectations
In the rush to get to market first, some companies set unrealistic timelines and announce launch dates to their customers early in the development phase. Doing so may generate excitement in your target market, but the failure to follow through on those promises can tarnish your reputation and business relationships.
It’s important to consider all the factors that can delay a project. Using off-shore suppliers, for example, can add significant time for shipping, customs and other delays, depending on the type of item you’re ordering. The potential quality issues associated with unregulated suppliers in foreign countries can also result in regulatory compliance issues, and the language barriers can inhibit communication. Working with a domestic supply chain vendor can help mitigate these risks. Rely on the expertise of your supply chain vendors during the design phase and determine realistic timelines and expectations prior to announcing a launch date so your marketing efforts don’t lose momentum and your customers don’t lose interest.
4. Be Different
Let’s face it, most manufacturers aren’t designing the next light bulb — an invention that revolutionizes the world. But are you designing a better light bulb? Setting your product apart from the competition can be difficult when there are similar items already on the market, but it’s important to find a differentiator that’s meaningful and valuable to your prospects. If you don’t feel you have one, motivate your team to come up with new product ideas that address your target audience’s challenges. Avoid trying to offer anything/everything to everyone and focus on a specific audience and their real, unmet needs.
It’s rare for a product launch to go perfectly. But with proper planning and foresight you’ll minimize the risks and help ensure your product meets or exceeds expectations. At MCL, our goal is to exceed your expectations. Our team of expert engineers and technicians can assist in the design and development of electrical and mechanical assemblies to help ensure your product launch is a success. Contact us today. We’re ready to explore the possibilities.