I want to develop a new product
If you want to develop a product, you need to focus sharply on the need in the market you want to meet.
Try, for example, holding a meeting where you look at:
- Existing products: Consider how your existing products could be given a clearer green or social profile.
- New products: Also make room for new product ideas with commercial potential.
- Business partners, experts or customers: Ask how they see your products in a year or five years – in other words, what product development they would like to see.
Ideas for having new ideas
Product development is increasingly starting with managers and other employees being encouraged to take part in the ideas process on an everyday basis with the result that development work is spread about – and not only within the company but ideally also externally to include business partners or customers.
Once the idea is there…
Once you feel that you have an idea for a good product, you need to:
- prepare a business case, which assesses, in concrete terms, the product's potential in terms of market needs, production costs, staff skills, legislation, competition and so on.
- evaluate the product's value chain from production to sales: Can your existing suppliers produce the new product sustainably and competitively? Can your distributors sell it sustainably?
New products often require suppliers and distributors to think in new ways if they are to be as sustainable and competitive as the market demands. Other times it will be necessary to enter into a dialogue with suppliers and distributors who are better equipped to supply and distribute the product.
When evaluating a new product's value chain, the following will often be relevant:
- Gain an overview of the new product's value chain from the first components being produced for manufacture, transport, distribution and sales – and ideally also what happens once the product reaches the end of its life, how all or parts of it can be recycled.
- Draw the value chain as a circle where you name each process and write down the names of companies that could perform, or are already performing, each particular task. Do not forget to add the name of your own company too so that it is clear where exactly you fit into the value chain and, in particular, how your internal value chain is structured.
- Consider the context in which the new product will be used. For example, what are the five most obvious contexts in which the product can be expected to be used? Do any of these contexts involve the use of other products too? If this is the case, collaboration with their manufacturers could help your product (branding, marketing, risk minimisation, etc.)
- Identify the social and environmental impacts from the use of the product. Is your product, for example, going to get people to turn down their heating or use their car less? Or does your service serve a social purpose, for example by giving people with limited means access to goods they could not previously afford? These social and environmental impacts may have a major say in the success of your new product – often more than actual production and distribution.
- develop prototypes based on the idea of showing what the product will look like. Test and improve the prototype until it can be turned into an actual product. Ideally test the prototype together with customers, business partners or suppliers.
Here it might be relevant to:
- Focus on the positive and negative effects you have identified. You need to do this when developing a new product systematically.
- Test the prototype by presenting it to colleagues, customers, business partners and so on so that the prototype is perfected before being put into production. The prototype will often have to be tested several times over.