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Category Archives: New Product Development

Do Your New Products Have Real Competitive Advantages?

First published on 09/02/2014 on www.marketingprofs.com – a preminent resource on best practice marketing techniques for the benefit of the members. What is MarketingProfs? Individual marketers, teams, and entire marketing organizations at the world’s largest corporations rely on us to cut through the chaos to find the marketing experts you can trust and the information you need. Trusted by 618,000 professionals globally, MarketingProfs is the only resource you need to stay ahead of the curve. Read more:

Do Your New Products Have Real Competitive Advantages?

Think Outside The Box Image
It’s a well known fact that brand marketing and new products have radically changed as portrayed by Don Draper and his team in AMC’s “Mad Men” TV series. Back in the 50’s/60’s, mass marketing / advertising / new products seemed to be more of an art than science. Things like intuition, gut feel and luck seemed to have more to do with brand and new product success than a disciplined process. However, since then marketing / advertising / new products have “grown-up” with sophisticated analytical and process models. While a lot of these new tools certainly have their place I would argue some have been at the expense of solid strategic and creative thinking. This thinking “gap” means brand and new product innovations have not been as “disruptive” enough relative to the past – and thus lack real competitive advantages. Reasons include:

  • Retailer and manufacturer consolidation – Unfortunately, stock price pressures from Wall Street have created a myopic view of how to effectively manage and grow businesses – particularly in consumer product companies. The number of retailers and manufacturers serving consumers has radically dwindled since the 60’s. A lot of companies and retailers either no longer exist or now part of bigger concerns. The result has been lower headcount, lower tolerance for long term payback and lower new product activity (source: Nielsen).
  • The retail landscape continues to shift – Brick and mortar outlets have been losing share to online outlets due to consumer “show rooming” purchase behaviors. Moreover, private label / control brands now comprise roughly 25% of all retail sales dollars (source: Private Label Manufacturers Association) decreasing the importance of national brands. Finally, lack of store buyer continuity and buying habits continue to put downward pressure on retail prices – even if a disruptive new product is launched
  • Consumer demographics have shifted – Millennials are changing the face of marketing forever (source: Boston Consulting Group). Millenials will likely outnumber baby boomers 78 million to 56 million by 2030. This segment will have different habits and purchase behaviors vs. boomers and will impact marketing activities to reach them.
  • Marketing and information technology are merging – (if not done so already) – The growth of social media along with more sophisticated analytical tools are bringing these two separate functions together. Older marketers need to better understand social media and tactics and become more “tech savvy”; while younger marketers need to have a better understanding of strategy since more media is now BOTH traditional and digital. Allocation of marketing dollars to the most effective media channel to drive sales is critical since consumers are harder to reach
  • Idea generation/intellectual property have become too narrowly defined – Historically idea generation and intellectual property were sequential activities. This meant you had to have good ideas BEFORE you had a patentable intellectual property. However, some companies have recognized good ideas can come from anywhere – both from inside and outside. As a result, they have formalized their idea generation and intellectual properties processes to ensure they have both sustainable and robust streams of new product/business ideas (i.e. P&G).

As a result, many consumer product companies are losing/lost their competitive edge / advantages and not really innovating any longer. This can be seen in the Boston Consulting Group’s latest white paper: “The Most Innovative Companies 2013”. In this report, BCG continues to track the state of innovation via interviews with 1,500 senior executives which rate and rank their views of their own innovation plans and competition. They rank the 50 most innovative companies and their movement up/down this list over time. The sad fact from their latest report is only 5 consumer product companies are listed:

Boston Consulting Group’s Most Innovative Consumer Product Companies

Boston Consulting Group's Most Innovative Consumer Product Companies

So what can you do to make sure your new product programs have the right kinds of competitive advantages? I would argue you need to think big and “outside the box”. You need to persuade your CEO and CFO that investment in new product initiatives are worth the time and effort – despite the risks. However, that being said you do need to prepare compelling case(s) or basis of interest(s) so other senior line managers can better see opportunities. You can do this by following 10 steps:

1). REALLY understand your consumer / customer – Figure out what really motivates your customers / consumers to purchase your product or service. This could mean going beyond just focus groups to real quantitative analysis that gets to the core of purchase behaviors and attitudes.

2). Think big – Be creative and think outside the box. Remember the customer / consumer might not think about your product category in the same way you do. This is where creativity, intuition and gut feel really counts – if you need help get it.

3). Involve more than just marketing people – While marketing people usually drive new products, they don’t know everything. Good ideas can come from other functions beyond marketing….and also listen to your customers who resell to the ultimate end user. They see what your competitors are doing.

4). Test the validity of your ideas/concepts and prioritize them – Once you have a range of ideas you need a way to quickly screen them with the right target consumer. Quick concept market research screens are usually the best way.

5). Put together alternative business proposition(s) – At this point you need to summarize your top product ideas so senior management can better judge their attractiveness relative to other options. I recommend “single sheet of paper” approach summarizing the a) opportunity, b) barriers to entry, c) product line strategy/expansion potential and d) rough unit/$ volume potential.

6). Use a new product development process – If you don’t have a new product development process – get one. There are many staged tollgate new product models that can fit your business. Each “approved” business proposition should have its own tracking model and metrics for go/no-go decisions.

7). Put together new product roadmaps – Product life cycles are now incredibly short due to a combination of changing consumer needs and competitive offerings. You should plan a multi-year new product roadmap outlining what could be follow-up innovations to extend their new product life cycle.

8). If you sell to a reseller – be sure to highlight the opportunity from their perspective. – You need something to give your reseller (i.e. retailer) a reason to stock and carry the product. Otherwise, end users might not never see your idea.

9). Put together a comprehensive marketing plan – You will need to “broadcast” your new product news so customers/consumers can see it in the marketplace. Don’t just assume consumers will “find” your product on the internet or word of mouth.

10). Go back and re-evaluate if your new product programs were successful – Once you launch a new product or service it should be re-evaluated to see if it performed as expected and if not why?

Developing and launching new products are challenging – no doubt about it. However, if your business follows the above steps you should have much greater probability of success. You need to assume your competition ALWAYS knows as much or more than you with end users. If you keep this in mind don’t be surprised if you show up sometime on future Boston Consulting Group’s most innovative company lists. This is a great way to measure your success/failure as an innovator – because it from your peers.

Rick Steinbrenner
Global Marketing Officer
Brand Marketing Advisors
www.globalbrandguy.dot.com

How Sure Are Your Consumers Will Buy Your New Products? – A.J. Riedel; Founder & Sr. Partner of Riedel Marketing Group

Consumer Shopper Graphic Image

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

How To Make Sure You’re Working On The Right New Products

First published on 1/30/2013 on www.marketingprofs.com – a preminent resource on best practice marketing technigues for the benefit of the members. Their editorial team cuts through all of this marketing noise to  find the experts and in-the-trenches marketers who know what they are talking  about. Then we take their know-how and mix it with our marketing smarts to turn  it into practical advice that you can actually use through our newsletters,  conferences, seminars, podcast, articles, and webcasts. We must be doing it  right, because we’re a multi-million dollar company that serves a community of  more than 496,000 entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and professional  marketers at the world’s largest corporations. Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/about/#ixzz2IHCDaHq8

Product Portfolio Management

It happens all the time.  You learn your active new product programs are either falling behind or the scope of the project has radically changed.  Your teams are telling you they don’t have enough resources to do ALL programs.  Moreover, they seem to be working at cross purposes to one another and have different opinions on the probability of getting the idea to work.  You need to figure out a way to get everyone on the same page so you can keep your new product programs on track and get your ideas to market in a timely fashion.  In this article we will discuss ways to make sure you’re properly resourcing your new product portfolio and then develop tracking tools to make sure they launch on time.  In a prior article (Are your new product ideas attractive enough?), I discussed the major types of new products as well as their differing risk/reward profiles: Type 1:  Simple derivatives/new models of current product lines – easiest to do, lowest risk. Type 2:  Line extensions. Type 3:  New products/innovations in a company’s core category. Type 4:  New product platforms in a new category (to the company) – hardest to do, highest risk. I then recommended using an objective assessment tool to help rank alternative new concept attractiveness from high to low.  The goal is to prioritize your new product portfolio – just like your individual financial investments.  Once completed you then need to determine if your new product portfolio is “balanced” and can potentially deliver results vs. expectations.  There are three critical elements to consider to make sure your new product portfolio is “balanced”.

  • Are your new product ideas strategically aligned with business and innovation growth strategies
  • Is your new product portfolio balanced across product type, risk, time and resources
  • Can they deliver against new product revenue growth expectations – are they sufficient?

One tool than can help in this assessment is development of a new product road map.  A graphical hypothetical product road example is shown below:

New Product Portfolio Management - Product Road Status

 Click On Image To Enlarge

As you can see this graphical plot shows the type of new product, the size of the opportunity, where it is in the new product process as well as its estimated development timeline.  This tool can then be used to help allocate limited development resources to achieve the desired risk vs. reward balance requirements. 

Fortunately, this same tool can also help you track and manage your new product portfolio.  All one needs do is plot progress along the launch time line as well as its current status in the new product development process at different points in time (i.e. quarterly reviews) as shown in the example below:New Product Portfolio Management - Product Road Quarterly Update

 Click On Image To Enlarge

As you can see, these tools are straightforward, easy to understand and really helps to get everyone on the same page.  One minor caveat – in very large/global organizations there can be literally hundreds of new product initiatives making tracking more of a challenge.  Fortunately, there a number of available automated product portfolio management tools on the market.  Once such program is called “Clarity” owned by Computer Associates.  This type of automated tracking programs use a dashboard concept to assist in tracking a large number of new product programs.  See screen shot examples below show how this can be used in larger organizations.

Computer Associates Clarity Program Dashboard Example

 Click On Image To Enlarge

 Computer Associate Clarity Product Portfolio Dashboard Example

Click On Image To Enlarge

One final note.  It’s VERY important both senior and line managers be consistent in their new product resource management decision-making process.  What this means is line managers need to have “straight talk” with their senior leaders regarding realistic risk vs. reward opportunities.  Senior managers also need to realize their teams can’t do everything.  If priorities change too much this sends confusing messages to the organization which can easily cripple getting anything out the door.  Finally, the type of tracking tool that’s used is not as important as having A tool to help manage and track alternative new product concepts.  Product portfolio tracking roadmaps are considered “best practice” at many leading global companies like Proctor and Gamble, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, General Electric and Stanley Black & Decker, etc.  They consistently manage and track their portfolios to make sure they’re delivering the right mix of big and small ideas sufficient to meet the strategic growth objectives of their organizations.  It’s little wonder then that many of these companies are #1 or #2 in their respective product categories.  Can you say your company is on this list? 

Rick Steinbrenner
Chief Marketing Officer/Principal, Brand Marketing Advisors
www.globalbrandguy.com
The Global Brand Guy  

Are Your New Products Concepts Attractive Enough?

Post first published 1/16/13 in the “MENG Blend” on the Marketing Executives Networking Group website – www.mengonline.com.  The destination site for leading marketing executives looking to stay ahead of the curve.  We have more than 1800 of the leading marketing minds in the world eager to meet, communicate, help and share our expertise.

Assessing New Products Concepts Attractiveness

It’s a common dilemma for most companies.  You have multiple new product ideas, but how do you know which ones are the most attractive in terms of consumer/customer interest, market size and growth and where you and your customers can make the most money?  In addition, how long would it take to bring the idea(s) to market and does the company have the right design and build capabilities to make it happen?  The key is to figure out an objective way to assess the attractiveness of alternative new product concepts so you can prioritize those first.  In this article we will discuss the different types of new products and the process you should use to prioritize your new product portfolio.

Many reasons exist on why you need to prioritize your new product portfolio.  Some are:

  • Not all new product programs are the same.  There is a big difference in developing simple model derivatives vs. “disruptive” new product ideas.  You need to tailor your new product process to match the types of new products being developed. 
  • You can’t do everything.  You have limited time, people and development dollar resources.
  • While you might have a great new product idea, new functional technologies might not be developed enough yet to have it work.
  • ŸYou want to be “first to market” vs. competitors.  Studies have consistently shown leading the market with new products is more preferable than following.
  • ŸYou need to make sure your new product development portfolio is aligned with business strategy and goals as well as being sufficient to meet new revenue growth expectations.

The first thing you should do is assess the strategic and technical difficulties in developing your new product ideas.  There are four major new product types groups:

Type 1:  Derivatives/new models of current product lines.  They are just additional product features, color, flavor, scent or size products etc.  Easiest to do and low risk.  Examples include: 10 vs. 12 cup coffee-makers, diet sodas or different cake mix flavors.

Type 2:  Line extensions:  These are current product lines moving into an adjacent category based on the same branding or product platform(s).  Examples include:  Clorox disinfectant wipes, Velvetta’s cheese skillet dinners, or Kellogg’s pop-tarts.

Type 3:  New products in company’s core category:  These include new platforms or delivery systems offering new innovations in the company’s core business.  Examples include: Tide detergent pods, DeWalt cordless power tools and General Electric’s compact fluorescent light bulbs (cfl).

Type 4:  New platform in a new category (to the company):  These concepts have the highest risk, but have the most business impact – i.e. game changers and/or market category creators.  Examples include: Swiffer quick cleaners, iphones/tablets and Keurig K-cup single serve coffeemakers.

These new product types have very different risk vs. reward profiles as conceptualized below:

New Product Types - Risk vs. Reward

Click On Image To Enlarge

Thus, it’s important to know the new product type you’re considering so you can more accurately assess its attractiveness to the company.  Then you need an objective way to assess the attractiveness of alternative concepts since people, time and dollar resources aren’t unlimited.  Fortunately, this step doesn’t need to be 100% accurate or highly complex.  A consistent qualitative ranking assessment will do just fine at this stage.

There are at least five major attractiveness criteria measures you should consider:

  1. Consumer Interest:       Is the concept unique?  Can consumers easily see demonstrable results?
  2. Design & Build Capabilities:  How easy is it to design/build?  Is engineering/R&D familiar with the  technologies involved?  Should you make the product or source it elsewhere?
  3. Market Size/Growth & Competitive Offerings:  How big is the market?  Is it growing and sustainable?  How many major competitors are out there      already?
  4. Financial:  What is the net margin $ potential?  Does the concept require substantial development dollars?  Will it require substantial marketing      communication dollars beyond the launch?
  5. Risk:  Is your concept patentable?  How long will it take to develop?  Will either qualitative and/or quantitative market research be required to help reduce  business risk?

You should weight these measures and combine them into a new product ranking assessment tool similar to the one below.

Concept Attractiveness Scoring Template

Click on Image To Enlarge

Then you grade each one of your initiatives and rank them high to low based on these concept attractiveness scores.  While you could use the above example, you should design your own new product ranking assessment tool consistent with your overall business model since attractiveness criteria can vary from industry to industry.

In sum, it’s not enough just to have great new product ideas.  You need to know what type of product it is and then objectively assess its appeal relative to multiple ideas.  You then need to prioritize your ideas so you can make sure your product portfolio is diversified similar to any financial investment.  This tool can help you and your company manage the “fuzzy front end” vs. it managing you.

Rick Steinbrenner
Chief Marketing Officer/Principal, Brand Marketing Advisors
www.globalbrandguy.com
A Consumer Brand & Product Marketer 

How To Make Sure New Products Don’t Fail

Post first published 11/20/12 in the “MENG Blend” on the Marketing Executives Networking Group website – www.mengonline.com.  The destination site for leading marketing executives looking to stay ahead of the curve.  We have more than 1800 of the leading marketing minds in the world eager to meet, communicate, help and share our expertise.

Improving Your New Product Success Rate

How can you make sure your new product idea doesn’t fail?  The answer is: do your upfront homework to fundamentally understand how your consumer/customer thinks/feels/uses your products, not just what they say or tell you in person.  The marketplace “wasteland” is literally littered with failed new products because companies didn’t do the right homework/research and/or took short cuts because they thought “we know what the consumers/customers wants better they do”. As most general managers know, alot of new products fail in year one of their launch.  According to Schneider Associates and other leading marketing professionals, nearly 3/4 of consumer products launches fail to achieve to $7.5MM in sales; and only 3% of launches achieve ~$50MM of “critical mass” and/or distribution.  The main reason seems to be most consumers tend to buy the same 150 items, which can constitute as much as 85% of household needs; thus it’s hard to get something new on the radar – according to Jack Trout – formerly of Trout & Ries. Doing the right kind of homework/research can dramatically improve your chances of new product success.  However, not everyone agrees research is the right answer.  Much has been written about the late Steve Jobs of Apple not believing in marketing research.  In Mr. Job’s obituary on the New York Times Web site, John Markoff quoted his aversion to market research this way: “It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”  In other words, while Mr. Jobs tried to understand how technology could solve problems for his consumers, he wasn’t going to rely on them to demand specific solutions, just so he could avoid ever having to take a risk.  He referred to this as “leading”. I agree with Mr. Jobs to a point.  Research never really can “lead the way” to success – it never has.  Only creativity, ingenuity, enabling technology and yes, intuition are the only real ways to achieve new product success.  Research really only helps sort the “wheat from the chaff” and can help point the right way and/or reduce risk.  Market research is simply a tool; it doesn’t replace – and never has – good solid thinking.

The question is how a company can encourage outside the box thinking which could result in new product success.  One way is to break-through functional “silos” is use of cross-functional teams focused on the problem(s).  Kraft Foods taught a powerful strategic planning framework that assisted in the idea generation process to many of its senior managers.  It was called STEPS – short for Situation Analysis, Tracking, Execution, Plans and Strategies.  This technique either a) assisted solving complex problems and/or b) help identify new areas of opportunities.  The concept is summarized below.

Click on image to enlarge

When used effectively this framework could help identify a company’s or brand’s “strategic competitive advantage” based on marketplace differentiation and value.  You knew you had a competitive advantage if you could answer “yes” to the following: a) do we have an advantage?, b) do competitors want it?, and c) do consumers really need or desire it?  If you couldn’t answer “yes” to all three criteria you didn’t have a “SCA”.  This usually drove the next step – idea/concept brainstorming – commonly called the “fuzzy front end”.  This is where creativity, ingenuity and intuition come together to develop product concepts potentially addressing gaps in the strategic competitive advantage or “SCA”.

It starts with identifying consumer/customer, competitive and enabling technology trends for specific product categories and individual product concept opportunities.  You then move down the “funnel” using various marketing research tools to verify you’re using the right brand name along with the right product concept.  A concept needs to be specific – meaning how should it perform, what brand should be used, how does the product look, taste, smell, touch, to be substantially different vs. its competitors.  Product concept screening is the primary tool for this part of the process.  Below is a schematic of the opportunity identification/discovery “funnel” framework for the “fuzzy front end”.

Conceptual Framework

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One thing to remember – while its fine to conduct monadic concept tests to help screen winners from losers; this is usually not sufficient to determine final marketplace viability.  Concept testing only yields simple purchase intent scores and other measures, but the key issue is how the concept(s) would perform in the marketplace relative to other consumers/customers product choices.  Once you identify “good” ideas via branded product concept testing , the next step would be to test these concept(s) by placing them in simulated marketplace situation.

Finally, one must also remember not all market research methodologies are created equal.  In my experience, I’ve found there seems to be a positive relationship between deeper levels of consumer/customer understanding and higher market share/volume.  This is because a substantial difference can occur between what consumers/customers say vs. what they actually do or think in purchase decisions.  Generally, qualitative research focuses on how consumer/customers describe themselves; while quantitative research facilitates can give insights into how consumers/customers think or feel – which tends to be more predictive of actual consumer behavior.  Below is an illustrative conceptual model: 

Conceptual Framework

Click on image to enlarge

Yes, quantitative research can be more expensive than qualitative.  However, I would argue the cost of bringing a bad idea to market and failing is FAR greater than doing the right research to help make the right decision in the first place.  You can actually save money via the right testing protocols.

So in summary, how does one make sure new products don’t fail or at least improve one’s chances of success?

1. Make sure your product/company is correctly aligned about your strategic competitive advantage.

2. If you don’t have one form a cross-functional team (usually led by marketing) to recommend how you can identify one.

3. If a new product is needed to help obtain a SCA, use the opportunity identification/discovery funnel to help focus the team’s creative juices to develop the right concept(s) with the right brand.

4. Finally, use the right  kind of research to pinpoint the strength/weaknesses of individual concepts  and ultimately how would it perform vs. competition.

If you follow this process, you will have a better chance of not having your next new product become one of those ideas ending up in the “marketplace” wasteland and also potentially detract from your company’s valuable reputation.  Good luck.

Rick Steinbrenner Chief Marketing Officer/Principal, Brand Marketing Advisors www.globalbrandguy.com The Global Brand Guy

Staged Tollgate NPD For Successful New Product Ideas

This presentation discusses the importance of BOTH product and branding as key drivers for commercial success in new product development.  It details a best practice staged tollgate new product development process along with an example of how it was used to successfully develop new product ideas from scratch.  Then successful development of effective branding and positioning are also presented along with three live examples of how they were successfully deployed in the marketplace.

(Note: this presentation includes three you tube videos which shows execution of the presented brands positioning.  In order to view the videos, you need to do three things.

1) Must have a live internet connection while viewing

2) Save & download the presentation.

3) Then view the presentation in slide show and enable the content when the security alert for macros and active X comes up – (this may or may not happen depending on your computers settings.)

Brand Marketing Advisors New Product Roadmap Successes

This details Rick Steinbrenner’s – the global brand guy – used new product roadmap (s) in developing successful new products .  It presents best practices using staged tollgate new product development processes and gives two examples on how it can be successfully used.