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2013 is rapidly drawing to a close and the International Home + Housewares Show is just around the corner. You are probably pretty much done – or close to being done — with product development of your line for 2014. Depending on how long it takes your company to develop a new product from concept to final product, you’ve probably already started development of your line for 2015. You may already be pretty far along in the product development process.

How Certain Are You About Your New Products?

Let me ask you a question: How sure are you that the products you are developing for 2014 and 2015 are going to sell through? In other words, how certain are you that consumers are going to buy your products when they hit store shelves next year or the year after?  When it all comes down to it, the success of your new products depends on the consumer and whether they will buy.

How to Reduce Uncertainty

The fact is, you can never be 100% certain that the products you are developing are products that consumers are going to want to buy. The entire new product development process is fraught with uncertainty and risk. But you can reduce the uncertainty and risk.

How? By conducting product concept tests early on in the new product development process to find out what consumers think of your new product concepts.

Product concept testing does not replace management intuition and experience. Certainly, intuition grounded by years of in-market experience should always be listened to carefully, but it pays to augment even the best intuition with consumer feedback. Product concept testing provides another viewpoint — that of the people who are actually going to buy and use the product — to help counter the blinders-on optimism that the people developing the product often get as they fall in love with their product.

The Benefits of Product Concept Testing

The biggest benefit of integrating concept testing into your new product development process is that you could potentially save tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars in product development and tooling by identifying the marginal products that have a low probability of success before you’ve invested much money in development.

There are eight other benefits:

1) A higher percent of your new product introductions will be successes and your company will make more money.

2) You’ll get a better return on your new product investment.

3) You’ll feel more confident that your company is spending time and resources on the right products.

4) You’ll be able to make informed decisions about which concepts to take to market, at what price points, and how to position them.

5) You’ll get diagnostic information so the products can be revised and enhanced to improve their appeal.

6) You can make sure that the product is superior to competitive products already on the market – product superiority is the single most important new product success factor.

7) You’ll find out what the consumer thinks are the most important most compelling product claims and benefits.

8) Sell-in will be easier because you can prove to your retail customers that you’ve done your homework and proven the viability of the concept.

If product concept testing is not something your company does systematically as part of the new product development process, it should be.

I’d like to hear from you.  What is your experience with product concept testing?  How important is it to you to get consumer feedback on your new product concepts?

A.J. Riedel

For over 22 years, A.J. has been helping housewares manufacturers, industrial design firms, inventors, and industry trade associations make informed product and marketing decisions by providing them with consumer data and insight.  She has consulted for a wide range of housewares companies including Cuisinart, Jarden, World Kitchen, Newell Rubbermaid, Progressive International, and Chef’N as well as the International Housewares Manufacturers Association (IHA) and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).

A.J. conducts much of her research with her proprietary HomeTrend Influentials Panel (HIP), a carefully selected group of 200 trend-setting, trend-spreading consumers who participate in online surveys, in-home interviews, home-use tests, and focus groups. Because they pick up on new home-related trends and embrace new home goods much sooner than the rest of the U.S. population, HomeTrend Influentials are the bellwether for predicting how well new products are going to do with the mainstream American population.

She can be contacted at (602) 840-4948; ajr@4rmg.com; www.4rmg.com