Step 1: Idea Generation
The first step of new product development requires gathering ideas to be evaluated as potential product options. For many marketers, idea generation is an ongoing process with contributions from inside and outside the organization. Many marketing research techniques are used to encourage ideas including: running focus groups with consumers, channel members, and the company’s sales force; encouraging customer comments and suggestions via toll-free telephone numbers, social media postings and website comments forms; and gaining insight on competitive product developments through secondary data sources. One important research technique used to generate ideas is brainstorming where open-minded, creative thinkers from inside and outside the organization gather and share ideas. The dynamic nature of group members floating ideas, where one idea often sparks another idea, can yield a wide range of possible products that can be further pursued.
Step 2: Screening
In Step 2, the ideas generated in Step 1 are critically evaluated to isolate the most attractive options. Depending on the number of ideas, screening may be done in rounds with the first round involving company executives judging the feasibility of ideas while successive rounds may utilize more advanced research techniques. As the ideas are whittled down to a few attractive options, rough estimates are made of an idea’s potential in terms of sales, production costs, profit potential, and competitors’ response if the product is introduced. Acceptable ideas move on to the next step.
Step 3: Concept Development and Testing
With a few ideas in hand the marketer now attempts to obtain initial feedback from customers, distributors, and its own employees. Generally, focus groups are convened where the ideas are presented to a group, often in the form of concept board presentations (i.e., storyboards) and not in actual working form. For instance, customers may be shown a concept board displaying drawings of a product idea or even an advertisement featuring the product. In some cases, focus groups are exposed to a mock-up of the ideas, which is a physical but generally non-functional version of product idea. During focus groups with customers, the marketer seeks information that may include: likes and dislike of the concept; level of interest in purchasing the product; frequency of purchase (used to help forecast demand); and price points to determine how much customers are willing to spend to acquire the product.