New Product Development Research

Product Development Market Research Strategy

What is New Product Development (or “NPD”) strategy?

New product development is the process by which a market opportunity is identified and developed into a product (or service) that is made available for sale.

“NPD” has several stages. While the number of steps, or the terms applied to them may vary, the underlying approach and sequence is quite consistent and is discussed below.

At several points, market research techniques can be utilized either internally or with the assistance of an outside firm.

Getting started

The first thing a business should do, whether formally or informally, is a SWOT analysis. Examining one’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats will uncover “gaps” in the market as well as who is or might be a competitor in that space. Then, basic secondary research, online searching, input from the field, and some form of brainstorming sessions can aid the ideation process.

Next, all ideas for opportunities should be screened without bias or judgment.  Establish objective criteria for moving forward, discuss, evaluate, and prioritize the opportunities. Which will provide the best ROI?  Get to market soonest?  Cost the least to launch? It is not possible to predict the future, but at least you can choose a few ideas that look most promising.

By this time, you should know whether a competitive product is out there, who makes it, what its features are, who buys it and at what price it is sold. If there is no product in the market, determine whether anyone has ever tried and failed (maybe it was not a good idea!). Also, check for any patents or potential legal or regulatory issues.

Moving forward in the process

One of the most important steps is testing the concept among its intended audience.  Though there may be a few exceptions where a visionary could foretell the acceptance of a new product or service, most ideas first need to be exposed to potential buyers.  Do they understand what the new product is and does? Do they perceive a need for it? Does the product solve a problem? How likely is it that they would purchase it — and at what price? Finally, is there enough appeal so that potential sales will generate profits?

If the idea passes certain established criteria, it is time to create a prototype.  At this time, a combination of market research techniques will be very helpful.  Focus groups offer a good way to obtain interactive feedback from your target market.  Where feasible, some should be held in each of a few primary regions considered as most significant to success. Findings from this effort can be complemented with online surveys (where visual renditions can be shown, and reactions to two or more versions of the product can easily be tested).

Going to Market

By now, you have assessed whether “the dog will eat the dog food”. So it is time to fine tune the costs of producing and bringing the product to market.  Engineering, marketing, and financial departments all need to be involved.

A trial run or live market test can be conducted in one or more test markets. Critical information may be obtained that helps in tweaking the final product, packaging, pricing before plunging into full scale production. Also, communications can be tested at the same time to see if the desired message is being delivered and effective.


Launch time!

If all has gone well so far, it is now time to roll out the new product to the entire market.

Here, market research can continue to add value by tracking both consumers as well as competition.

  • Initial trial and repeat business should be closely monitored and compared to projections. Surveys can determine attitudes and ongoing usage intentions.
  • Competitor reactions (both offensive and defensive) clearly must be watched. Being prepared to be proactive at this early stage of a product’s life can be key to its long-term success.