Some examples of global product development activities undertaken by successful companies are:
- Marketing and other front-face activities planned using research and knowledge of the needs of local customers
- Developing aspects of product design relevant to the cultural identities of a country
- Increasing sustainability and reducing the risk of mishandling the brand’s message and image
- Creation of new products or adding variety to existing ones while working in tandem with third parties to reduce costs related to development activities
What is Global Product Development?
Global product development is the process of handling a company’s operations on a global scale. Global product development activities are performed by leaders of the biggest companies to grow their reach and influence.
Why is global product development important?
Having a globally focused product development strategy is important because it is the best way to approach the different susceptibilities of the global marketplace. One can’t expect a target market or a supply chain in a particular country to behave the same way as any other, as culture, infrastructure, laws, and many other factors vary widely between countries.
For instance, in some countries having fruit particles floating in beverages is associated with a product’s natural origin. In others, however, floating particles will be perceived as the manufacturer not putting proper care when filtering the beverage. Unforeseeable potential threats to a product can be easily identified and handled with a globally scaled strategic product planning process.
Coca-Cola, a company that operates all over the world, is a good example of a business that looks forward to giving its product management a new spin on different markets. While customers in the west are accustomed to seeing elaborate Christmas campaigns from the company, in countries where festivities like Ramadan are more common, they adapt their message to better target that audience. Global product development strategies guarantee that when it is time to market your product, you will be offering it to a populace ready to embrace it.
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6 stages of the product development process
Here are the 6 stages of the product development process:
- Generate an idea
- Define your product
- Elaborate a prototype
- Initial design
- Validation and testing
Stage 1: Generating an Idea
All transformational products begin with the generation of novel ideas. It is good to start by brainstorming potential products. If you need a hint on where to start, try asking yourself the following questions:
- What are the needs of the target market?
- How do different age groups react to advertising?
- Could you beat competitors by offering lower-priced products or through high-quality product design?
- Which other businesses could you form product development strategies with?
Even if smaller businesses don’t have the operational capabilities of the bigger industry players, that doesn’t mean they have to stay behind. Here are certain methods that may help:
- Perform a SWOT Analysis: SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Making a SWOT analysis chart by writing the potential helpful or harmful ramifications of one’s decisions is a great way to see if taking a risk is worth it. It will also help you conceptualize your core competency.
- Use the SCAMPER method: This product development strategy consists in brainstorming with a focus on improving goods and services. The word SCAMPER is an acronym for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Purpose, Eliminate, and Reengineer. Here’s a quick overview of what each of these means:
- Substitute: Is there something that can be replaced?
- Combine: Can two or more parts of something can be made into one?
- Adapt: Is there something that can be added?
- Modify: Can something change color, size, shape, or other qualities?
- Purpose: Could a product be put to another use or used in another industry?
- Eliminate: Is there something that can be removed?
- Reengineer: What would happen if you performed development activities out of order?
The goal of the SCAMPER method is to come up with as many ideas as possible, so don’t be discouraged if many of them seem silly at first glance. Someone once said, “What would happen if restaurant customers paid before eating?” and, as silly as that sounded back then, this is how the fast food industry was born.
- Identify your target market and cater to them: You should have a clear understanding of the reasons why someone would want to acquire your product. What kind of person do you think will buy from you, and what can you do to make your product interesting to them? Wendy’s, for example, reinvented social media marketing by figuring out how to make an interesting social media persona.
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Stage 2: Define Your Product
Once analyses have been done and all the potential ideas have been put on the table, it is time to outline what characteristics your product will have. During this stage, it is important to develop your ideas conceptually and fine-tune your product strategy. Some specific details must be defined during this stage, as they will be crucial for future product management.
To successfully define your product you should have the following information mapped out:
- Business analysis: When performing a business analysis one must establish distribution and e-commerce oriented product development strategies and contrast them with the competition. The purpose of this activity is to establish a clearly defined product development route. When making such an analysis, it is helpful to use the design structure matrix method or other analysis tools.
- Value proposition: To find your value proposition you must ask yourself: What problem does my product solve? The answer to that question must make your product stand out from similar products, as you run the risk of being just a spin-off.
If, for example, you devise a product that keeps contents placed inside under a certain temperature, you have to make sure you are not selling just another version of Thermos to customers. Your product must have original qualities that make it stand out from the crowd.
- Success metrics: You will have no clear way of knowing how much your business is growing if you haven’t set up metrics for success. Handling a business is not like rolling a boulder down a hill to see how far it ends up. It is more like doing a strict weight loss diet, where you count calories and set up goal posts. Personalized goals and benchmarks must be planned out to measure growth!
- Marketing strategy: The first step when developing a marketing strategy is to define what channels you will use to advertise your product. Channels that one can choose to market their product include:
- Social media advertising tools
- Ad space on websites
- A product’s website
- Radio and television
- Print media
- Live events
It will be easier to plan your marketing strategy if you have a clear understanding of what your value proposition and your success metrics are.
Stage 3: Elaborate a Prototype
The initial prototype may be something as simple as a drawing or as intricate as a computer-generated 3D image. The point of having a prototype is to identify potential risks in the design. The process of optimizing the design to simplify the supply chain is known as Design for Manufacturing.
The end goal of prototyping is to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This is a product that has fulfilled the minimum requirements to be marketable. For instance, the MVP of a t-shirt is just woven fabric in the shape of the shirt, without considering any print or other characteristics. All other features of your product can be added later in the product development process.
It is important to note that those who look forward to obtaining intellectual property rights for their product must first be able to produce a functional prototype before being able to register their product. Engineering efficiency will also greatly benefit from having access to a functional prototype.
Stage 4: Initial Design
Work must now go toward producing a model of the MVP, known as a mockup. The design of the mockup should have the needs of the target market in mind. Initial product design might see several iterations before it is of acceptable quality. Communication with partners is of utmost priority during this stage, as not only will the manufacturing sector be needed, but opinions on the product will also be of use.
It is during this stage that materials must be acquired. Depending on the product, different providers may be needed to obtain particular materials. Engineering collaboration tools can be used to keep all this information from providers in check, as there will be many hands to shake before your product is ready.
Stage 5: Validation and Testing
A product can’t be launched before undergoing testing. From initial product development processes to marketing, every step of the way from the assembly line to reaching the hands of the public must run efficiently. The following activities can be performed to guarantee a high-quality product:
- Concept development: Even though the prototype might be a success, it is still useful to review any problems that may come up. Working in tandem with other team members or beta testers can help one discover new perspectives to further improve the product.
- Front-end testing: During this stage, user interface functions are put to the test to detect any potential harm to the customer experience. It is common that, when complex systems are at play, bugs and functionality errors occur. It is through proper testing that one can provide a reliable product.
- Marketing plan: A marketing plan must contain all the required steps necessary to reach the marketing goals set for the product.
Stage 6: Commercialization
Once the product design has been finalized and both quality control and marketing are optimized, it is time to market your product. Manufacturing sectors will be better equipped by having access to the prototype and the specifications of the MVP, so make sure to share this information with them.
Don’t consider development to be over, though. The separate development of adjacent products may begin from the same research you performed when launching your initial product. It is also never too late to go back to the drawing board and change aspects of product design based on insights from customers.
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