Product development

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by Anne Payen, Intern.

See also: Upcycling of clothes


Product development is a process allowing to materialize concepts, to concretize objects, goods, equipment, or to create services, technique different from those already existing, and which propose answers to satisfy collective or particular needs in order to bring benefits to users. In other words, product development is a process bringing a product  from concept through market release, with the aim of offering answers to collective or particular needs. (New product development) and (What is Product Development?)

According to New product development and What is Product Development?, this process is composed of various stages. Although it is not always the same steps for every organization, there are common stages through which products typically progress: 

  • Idea Generation: Collective brainstorming ideas through internal and external sources.
  • Screening: Condense the number of brainstormed ideas.
  • Concept Testing: Structure an idea into a detailed concept 
  • Business Analysis: Understand the cost and profits of the new product and determining if they meet company objectives.
  • Developing MVP (minimum viable product): Developing a sample of the product. This initial version of the product needs just enough  functionality to be used by customers
  • Market testing/release MVP to users : The product is tested to a trial run, this will allow to get feedback, complaints and suggestions but also bring interest to potential customers. 
  • Commercialization: Introducing the product to the public

Complementary steps :

  • Identifying market need : Identify a problem that needs solving : conversations with potential customers, surveys, and other research activities 
  • Quantifying the opportunity/ Idea Screening : Determining the amount of people and companies this product can be beneficial to and if they are willing to pay for it
  • Building a roadmap: Identifying which themes and goals are central to develop first to solve the most significant pain points 
  • Evaluation: Research to monitor the progress of new service offering in relation to organizational goals.

Exemple case: Upcycling cloths with embroidered emoji

Idea Generation

Idea generation is, according to (What is idea generation ?), the process of creating, developing and communicating abstract, concrete or visual ideas. It is the initial part of the product development process, which focuses on finding possible solutions to perceived or real problems and opportunities.

There are several methods to do this step, we can mention the following : 

  • Idea challenge: A form of focused innovation where you raise a problem or an opportunity in the hope of finding creative solutions. The goal of the Idea Challenge is to participate in ideation and generate ideas around a predefined theme during a limited time period. It allows you to formulate a specific question and address it to a specific audience in order to receive new ideas and unique points of view. Idea challenge is the best technique when you need to generate a lot of new ideas. It may not be the most effective way to generate ideas if you only involve a few experts in your ideation process, as it has proven to be more useful for engaging large audiences. However, it is important to keep in mind that while the Idea Challenge allows you to gather many ideas quickly, careful planning takes time and may not be worth the effort if you do not have the resources to execute it properly. In addition, proper timing is necessary for the challenge to be successful.
  • Analogical thinking: A technique of using information from one source to solve a problem in another context. Often, a solution to one problem or opportunity can be used to solve another problem. For example, analogical thinking can be used to analyze a successful business, identify what makes it great, and then apply those same principles to your business. It's an effortless way to come up with new ideas that are pre-validated.

The above techniques are two of our favorites for generating ideas, but they are certainly not the only ones out there. It is by testing different options that you will find the ones that work for you.

Idea Screening  

Idea selection is the step in the product development process that follows idea (or concept) generation.It involves the use of checklists or personal judgments and is based on information from experience and market research. Considerations include strengths and weaknesses, the company's mission, market trends, and the product's potential return on investment. The screening also uses judgments that predict the organization's ability to manufacture the item and its ability to market it successfully. The purpose of this step is to sort through all of the initial ideas to select those that will provide guidelines to guide the technical staff in their concept development efforts.

Identifying market need

A product solves problems. So, according to How to identify an undeserved need in the market, an important initial step in a product development is to identify a problem that needs solving to offer a way (or a better way) to solve it.

  • Understand the goals on consumers

One way to start identifying underserved needs is by examining the market through the lens of the jobs that need to be done. Which means, by not focusing on what the people want but instead the goal they achieve by consuming a certain product. In other words, the goal here is not to dwell on what the users need but instead, focus on why do they need it.

  • Be introspective

When determining the needs of the market you can start by yourself and observing your daily routine: determining your daily tasks and listing all the tools that could be helpful to ease some of your tasks or by taking note of the defaults and inconveniences in an existing product.

  • Interviews

Conducting interviews is another important step in the stage. Indeed, by interviewing other people you can affirm or deny any hypotheses you came up with during your introspection. To do so you can either (if you already have a settle idea on who you want to introduce your product to) focus your interviews on a target demographic or you can interview a wider and more diverse range of people to ensure you hear a variety of perspectives and ideas.  

You can ask questions on their needs, or on the reason do they use a certain product and if these products fulfill all of their needs and so on. 

  • Identify and examine competitors

After interviewing people, selecting an idea that seems profitable and have discovered you're goal. It's time to see if there isn't a company already fulfilling this need.Therefore you should research businesses that are currently offering solutions to the job you’ve identified and also list those that can be hired to do the job that aren’t a one-to-one match to your product (those that can be used as substitute to satisfy the consumers needs). 

Then make a list of the strengths and weaknesses of each competitor again focusing on how well they satisfy the need of the users. This step may involve more market research, including interviewing people who have purchased rival products or services.

By analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors you can find the gap they collectively leave. This is how you know the market need is currently underserved and leaves the door open for your new product to solve it.

  • Be observant and attentive

Finally you must stay observant of the market progression, as technologies shift and new jobs to be done arise, so you can continue to serve customer needs.

Concept testing

Concept testing, according to What is concept testing? Definition, methods, types & examples, is defined as a research method that consists of using surveys (and sometimes qualitative methods) to assess consumer acceptance of your product or service concepts and ideas before you actually launch them. In this way, you can assess your customers' acceptance and willingness to buy and thus make critical decisions before launch. The author defines four primary methods of concept testing:

1. Comparison testing:

In comparison tests, two or more concepts are presented to respondents. Respondents compare these concepts by using rating or ranking questions or by simply asking to select the best concept presented. Comparison tests provide clear and easily understood results. It is easy to determine which concept is the winner. However, this method has a flaw. The results lack context. There is no way to know why respondents choose one concept over others. 

2. Monadic testing:

In a monadic test, the target audience is divided into several groups. Each group is presented with a single concept. These tests focus on the in-depth analysis of a single concept. A monadic test survey is usually short and very focused. Because each group of respondents sees only one construct, it is possible to go into depth without lengthening the survey. Researchers can ask follow-up questions about different attributes of a concept: its price, what they liked about the concept, its look and feel, etc. Even if each group of respondents sees different concepts in isolation, the follow-up questions for each concept will be the same.
Monadic test surveys are short and thus give researchers the opportunity to ask several follow-up questions. Thus, the results provide more context as to why one specific construct is better than the others. However, because the target audience is divided into several groups, the sample size needed (for this method to be effective) to conduct a monadic test is large. Since multiple concepts need to be tested, the sample size is larger. Increasing the sample size significantly increases the cost of the research.

3. Sequential monadic testing:

Like monadic testing, in sequential monadic testing, the target audience is divided into several groups. However, in this case, each group is presented with all concepts. The order in which the concepts are presented is randomized to avoid bias. Respondents are asked to answer the same set of follow-up questions for each of the concepts to obtain additional information. Because each group of respondents sees all concepts, the size of the target audience needed to conduct a sequential monadic test is relatively small. Multiple concepts can be tested in a single round. This makes sequential monadic testing more cost-effective and easier to conduct. This method of concept testing is ideal for research with budget constraints or when only a small target audience is available.

However, because all concepts are presented to each group of respondents, the length of the questionnaire is quite large. This affects completion rates and can lead to non-response bias. Researchers can reduce the length of the questionnaire by limiting the number of questions. However, this affects the depth of information collected. Sequential monadic tests are also subject to other biases, such as interaction bias or order bias.

4. Proto-monadic testing: 

A protomonadic test includes a sequential monadic test followed by a comparison test. In this case, respondents first evaluate several constructs and are then asked to choose the construct they prefer. This design is useful for validating the results of the monadic sequential test. Researchers can check whether the construct selected in the comparison test is consistent with the information collected on each construct. It is important that the instruments (questionnaires) used to test the product are themselves of high quality. Otherwise, the results of the collected surveys can be biased by measurement errors. This makes the design of the test procedure more difficult. Empirical testing provides an idea of the quality of the questionnaire. This can be done by:

  • asking a portion of potential respondents about their interpretation of the questions and use of the questionnaire, a researcher can test the viability of the cognitive interview, and
  • using a small subset of target respondents. The results can inform a researcher of errors such as missing questions or errors in logic and procedure,
  • Finally, we can also predict the measurement quality of the question. This can be done by using the Survey Quality Predictor (SQP) software.

Business Analysis

According to (Business analysis), Business analysis is a professional discipline that involves identifying business needs and finding solutions to business problems. Solutions often include a software systems development component, but may also consist of process improvements, organizational changes, or strategic planning and policy development. The person who takes on this task is called a business analyst. 
Business analysts don't just work on software systems development. They work across the organization, solving business problems in consultation with stakeholders. 
Although there are different definitions of the role, depending on the organization, there seems to be a common ground in which most business analysts work. The common responsibilities appear to be as follows:
Investigate business systems, taking a holistic view of the situation. This may include examining elements of organizational structures and personnel development issues, as well as current IT processes and systems.
Evaluate actions to improve the functioning of an enterprise system. Again, this may require a review of the organizational structure and staff development needs to ensure that they are consistent with any proposed process redesign and IT system development.
Document the business requirements for IT system support using appropriate documentation standards.
With this in mind, the central role of the business analyst could be defined as an internal consultant role responsible for investigating business situations, identifying and evaluating options for improving business systems, defining requirements, and ensuring the effective use of information systems to meet business needs.

Developing MVP

A minimum viable product, or MVP, is accord to (Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a product with enough features to attract early-adopter customers and validate a product idea early in the product development cycle. While focusing on releasing an MVP , developers potentially avoid lengthy unnecessary work. Instead, they iterate on working versions and respond to feedback, challenging and validating assumptions about a product's requirements.

The MVP is utilized so that prospective entrepreneurs would know whether a given business idea would actually be viable and profitable by testing the assumptions behind a product or business idea. The concept can be used to validate a market need for a product and for incremental developments of an existing product. As it tests a potential business model to customers to see how the market would react, it is especially useful for new/startup companies who are more concerned with finding out where potential business opportunities exist rather than executing a prefabricated, isolated business model.

1. Make sure your planned MVP aligns with your business goals.

The first step in developing your MVP is to ensure that the product will align with your team's or company's strategic goals. To do this, you can ask and answer questions such as: What are the goals of my new pro? Are you aiming for sales in the next six months? Are your resources limited? These questions can help you determine whether or not it's time to start developing a new MVP.

2. Start identifying specific problems you want to solve or improvements you want to enable for your user persona. Now that you’ve determined your MVP plans align with your business objectives, you can start thinking through the specific solutions you want your product to offer users. These solutions, which you might write up in the form of user stories, epics, or features, do not represent the product’s overall vision, only subsets of that vision. Remember, you can develop only a small amount of functionality for your MVP. You will need to be strategic in deciding which limited functionality to include in your MVP. You can base these decisions on several factors, including:

  • User research
  • Competitive analysis
  • How quickly you’ll be able to iterate on certain types of functionality when you receive user feedback
  • The relative costs to implement the various user stories or epics

3. Translate your MVP functionality into a plan of development action. Now that you’ve weighed the strategic elements above and settled on the limited functionality you want for your MVP, it’s time to translate this into an action plan for development. It’s important to keep in mind that the product must be viable. That means it must allow your customers to complete an entire task or project, and it must provide a high-quality user experience. An MVP cannot be a user interface with many half-built tools and features. It must be a working product that your company should be able to sell.

Market Testing

According to (Market testing), test marketing offers the marketing company two important advantages. First, it allows a product to be tested under real market conditions to obtain a measure of its sales performance. In addition to allowing management to make an accurate estimate of its potential sales. Second, it gives management the opportunity, while the product is on limited sale, to identify and correct weaknesses in the product or its marketing plan before committing to a sales launch.

Despite these advantages, market testing does have its limitations. It is an expensive and time-consuming method of gathering information about reactions to new products, and a market test should therefore be used only as a last resort. However, it is still the most cost-effective way to proceed with a new product.

There are four main factors to consider in determining the effectiveness of test marketing:

1. The cost and risk of product failure must be weighed against the profit and probability of success.

2. The difference in scale of the investment involved in the test pathway versus the national launch has a significant impact on the decision to test or not. For the products we launched directly into the domestic market, there was very little difference in manufacturing investment depending on whether we opted for a test or a domestic launch. On the one hand, when the factory investment for a national launch is significant, but only slight for a test market, the investment risk favors the test launch approach.

On the other hand, by limiting a product to the test market area for the considerable period of time needed to accurately predict performance, there may be a high opportunity cost. This opportunity cost can amount to the unrealized revenue and profit of a year's worth of domestic sales, depending on the length of the product's test period.

3. Another factor to consider is the likelihood and speed with which competitors will copy your product and take over part of your domestic market or foreign markets, if the test is successful. Competitors will monitor your test market and, if they have the technology, they will develop their own versions of your product and market them if you give them the opportunity.

4. In addition to the investment in plant and machinery, any new product launch is accompanied by a marketing investment that varies with the size of the launch. Launching a new product requires significant advertising and promotional expenditures; it requires time, attention, and effort on the part of the sales force; and it requires shelf space in wholesale and retail stores, which is sometimes obtained only at the expense of space already given to the company's existing products.

In addition, if a new product fails, there are costs to rebate and reclaim unwanted inventory from customers, as well as costs to write off unwanted and unusable materials and packaging. Management must also consider the potential damage that a new product failure may inflict on the company.

On the other hand, there are ways to minimize the main negative points of the package, and either correct them if possible, or abandon the project before embarking on the costly adventure of test marketing. Here are the steps we follow:

  • Select a sample of respondents based on their assumed buying habits.
  • Show respondents the planned launch advertisement for the new product and get their feedback.
  • Show respondents the product and get their reactions before the trial.
  • Give respondents five samples of the product to test in their homes.
  • Conduct an in-home interview to determine respondents' opinions of the product after the trial, their recollection of the advertisement, and their anticipated purchase frequency.

In addition to these steps, another useful research tool can help further reduce uncertainty: the model test market. This is a research step between pre-test research and a full test market. Model test markets simulate the appropriate market to reduce both the time and expense of properly evaluating a full test market.


Commercialization or marketing is defined by (Commercialization), as the process of introducing a new product or production method into commerce - making it available in the marketplace. This term refers to the definitive entry into the mass market (as opposed to entry into earlier niche markets), but it also refers to the transition from the laboratory to commerce (even if limited). Many technologies are born in a research and development lab or in an inventor's workshop and may not be practical for commercial use in their early stages (as prototypes).
The "development" segment of the "research and development" spectrum requires time and money, as systems are designed with the goal of making the product or method a paying commercial proposition. New product launch is the final stage of new product development - at this point, advertising, sales promotion, and other marketing efforts encourage commercial adoption of the product or method. Beyond commercialization (where technologies enter the business world) may be consumerization (where they become consumer goods, as when computers moved from the lab to the enterprise to the home, pocket, or body).