New product development

New Product Development is typically an iterative process that comes from an in depth understanding of the market, customers and technology. We approach New Product Development from the strategic point of view of getting the right products to the right markets.

There are various techniques for idea generation, concept screening, prototyping testing and final launch materials and message development. Fundamentally, successful NPD relies on having a team that understands the customer and understands the nuts and bolts of the technology.

Successful product development combines a view of the world from a technological point of view, together with a view of what customer's will actually need or want. Too much technology and the customer's may not buy the product, too little technology and the product may not do what the customer wants.

"Our key research objective was to obtain a hierarchy of consumer needs for our NPD programme, but exceeded our expectations by also building us an excel-based model to test consumer preference for different product scenarios - we got much more than we expected!"

J. Anson,(R&D Technology Manager), Reckitt Benckiser

Ideas for new products emerge all the time in all sorts of ways. But capturing the ideas, evaluating them and picking likely winners and turning the ideas into real products is a more difficult process.

The first stage of an NPD process is normally a formal collection of product ideas using brainstorming or a workshop. New ideas may arise from an understanding of the technology, or from an understanding of customers, but it is most powerful when the two are combined - when the engineers get to see and hear what it is the customers' are looking for.

Although market research might identify gaps in the market from a customer's point of view, it won't tell you what to do or how to approach the technical design. Feedback from customers needs to be combined with imagination from the design team in brainstorming sessions to identify potentially profitable new areas and new directions.

This can be filtered through hypothesis screening with customers to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Once good ideas are identified engineers need to focus their development effort on the areas that will have most impact to the customer. Common techniques include Quality Function Deployment (QFD also known as the "House of Quality" or "Voice of the Customer"). QFD fits extremely well with conjoint analysis, as markets can be modelled under different product scenarios and return on investment decisions can be investigated prior to development.

Once new products are developed the cycle starts again, with market monitoring, looking at customer satisfaction and brainstorming to develop the next range of products or services. Using One-to-one research techniques are an excellent way of maintaining closeness to your customers in order to develop new product and service offers.

We can help with building product roadmaps, brainstorming and scenario development in workshops to get your internal team thinking about the future. We would typically combine these sessions with work with customers - to understand the world from the customer's point of view. This can include observation, qualitative depth interviews or group discussions, or bringing customers in to meet and brainstorm with the team.

In addition, we can help map out market trends from quantitative research and market monitoring. By adding creativity and an independent view we can help re-frame your view of the world to look at different possible scenarios in your market.

When products are in development we can ensure that customer input is included to make sure the products stay on target and by helping you monitor the competition, we can ensure you are not over taken by events elsewhere.

Finally, we can help with the product launch to ensure messages are on song, then follow up with initial customer satisfaction measurement and market forecasting.

For help and advice on NPD contact