The Net Worke

The Nokia 9000 Communicator. A phone, fax, Web browser. E-Mail terminal, SMS message device and personal organiser in one.

hJokifl and the a trows symbol sre registered Uademarki.

The Nokia 9000 Communicator. A phone, fax, Web browser. E-Mail terminal, SMS message device and personal organiser in one.

hJokifl and the a trows symbol sre registered Uademarki.

With this all-in-one pocket phone, fax, diary and E-Mail terminal, Nokia creates [hat has never existed before.

Group), the C5 (Clive Sinclair's electric ear) all have one thing in common - they all failed to meet target returns on investment, and therefore joined the ranks of new-product failure.

Why do so many new products fail? There are several reasons. Although an idea may he good, the market size may have heen overestimated. Perhaps the actual product was not designed as well as it should have been. It may be a 'me too" product which is no better than products that are already established in the marketplace. Or maybe it was incorrectly positioned in the market, priced too high, or advertised and promoted poorly. A high-level executive might push a favourite idea despite poor marketing research findings. Sometimes the costs of product development are higher than hudgeted and sometimes competitors fight back harder than expected.

What Governs New-Product Success?

Because so many new products fail, companies are anxious to learn how to improve their odds of new-product success. One way is to identify successful new products and find out what they have in common. One study of new-product successes found that the no. 1 success factor is a unique superior product., one with higher quality, new features and higher value in use. Another key success factor is a well-defined product concept prior to development, in which the company carefully defines and assesses the target market, the product requirements and the benefits before proceeding. New products that meet market needs more closely than existing products invariably do well. Other success factors included technological and marketing synergy, quality of execution in all stages and market sttrae&ijenfiss.4 Thus to create successful new products, a company must understand its consumers, markets and competitors, and develop products that deliver superior value to customers.

Successful new-product development may be even more difficult in the future. Keen competition has led to increasing market fragmentation - companies must now aim at smaller market segments rather than the mass market, and this means smaller sales and profits for each product. New products must meet growing social and government constraints, such as consumer safety and environmental standards. The costs of finding, developing and launching new products will increase steadily due to rising manufacturing, media and distribution costs. Many companies cannot afford or cannot raise the funds needed for new-product development. Instead, they emphasize product modification and imitation rather than true innovation. Even when a new product is successful, rivals are so quick to copy it that the new product is typically fated to have only a short life.

So, companies face a problem - they must develop new products, but the odds weigh heavily against success. The solution lies in strong new-product planning and in setting up a systematic new-product development process for finding and growing new products. Top management is ultimately accountable for the new-product success record. It must take the lead, rather than simply ask lower-level staff or the new-product manager to come up with great ideas. It must define the business domains and product categories that the company wants to focus on. Many or most new-product ideas are likely to be unsuitable for development. Management must encourage the search for a large pool of ideas from which potential winners emerge. To facilitate the selection process, it must establish specific criteria for new-product idea acceptance, based on the specific strategic rofe the product is expected to play. The product's role might be to help the company maintain its industry position as an innovator, to det'cnd a market-share position, or to get a foothold in a future new market. Or the new product might help the company to take advantage of its special strengths or exploit technology in a new way.

Another crucial decision facing top management is how much to budget for new-product development. New-product outcomes are so uncertain that it is difficult to use normal investment criteria for budgeting. Some companies solve this problem by encouraging and financing as many projects as possible, hoping to achieve a few winners. Other companies set their R & D budgets by applying a conventional percentage-to-sales figure or by spending what the competition spends. Still other companies decide how many successful new products they need and work backwards to estimate the required R & D investment.

Another important factor in new-product development work is to set up effective organizational structures for nurturing innovation and handling new products. Successful new-product development requires a company-wide effort. Successful innovative companies make a consistent commitment of resources to new-product development, design and new-product strategy that is linked to their strategic planning process, and set up formal and sophisticated organizational arrangements for managing the new-product development process (see Marketing Highlight 14.1). Let us now take a look at the major steps in the new-product development process.

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