Idea Generation, idea screening and concept development
Idea generation is the first step in the New Product Development Cycle. During this step, internal brainstorming will typically take place. Members of your company may be involved in these sessions, including the sales and marketing departments and the technical and operations staff. During the idea phase, it’s vital to evaluate feedback from customers, review competitor products and observe different food trends.
At this stage, it’s a good idea to perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of existing and competing products. A SWOT analysis can help you evaluate constraints, including whether new equipment is needed, or if there are challenges with ingredients such as limited availability. The analysis can also identify opportunities like the option of working with co-manufacturing facilities. Conducting market research and connecting with experts in the industry will help in developing your new idea.
New idea concepts should be developed with the customer base in mind. For example, will it be targeted towards children or adults? Will there be a health focus or convenience? Test these ideas with the target market to understand if consumers are interested in buying the product.
Business Strategy Development
An important part of the development of a product includes developing a business strategy. Marketing, branding, pricing and costs are essential parts of the strategy that should be considered. When creating a business plan, some key areas that you and your company may want to discuss are objectives, product description, competitive landscape, target market description, SWOT, market trends, value proposition, promotional strategy, distribution and sales strategies. It’s necessary to consider all elements of a business plan before starting a new project. Having a business plan in place will help to establish if the project is feasible and direct the next stages of the commercialization cycle.
During the product development stage, your product starts to become a reality. Here, you will translate concepts into optimized prototypes. These prototypes are refined based on consumer testing and key product attributes such as nutritional targets, ingredient thresholds, costs, sweetener sources etc.
First, benchtop formulations are created. These formulations are further optimized based on the functionality of the ingredients and sensory attributes. At this point, all ingredients will be sourced from commercial suppliers and must comply with Canadian Food regulations. You will also start to introduce packaging materials and formats to the customer for their feedback and consideration.
Once an optimized prototype is chosen, the scale-up process will begin as you begin moving to pilot sized production to create sales and marketing survey samples. Products at this stage should be made using representative packaging to initiate consumer feedback and shelf-life studies. You will also start to work with your partners to create labelling information such as Nutrition Facts Tables and ingredient declarations. If your product has health claims, these will need to be substantiated, and certification requirements will need to be completed. You will also want to consider pallet configurations, by mocking up secondary packaging and determining count per carton.
The product development stage will end with a final prototype creation and development of your product specifications, including all safety and regulatory requirements. At this point, your product is now ready to be shared with the consumer.
Test Marketing/Consumer Acceptability Testing
At this time during the cycle, your target market will have their first chance to see your product. Before introducing the product, create a plan to obtain their feedback. Not only are you looking for feedback from the consumer, but you also want to work very closely with your production team. Follow up with operations staff to troubleshoot any potential production problems, perform quality assurance and any required lab testing to confirm specifications and be sure that your package is properly assessed and the shelf life is determined.
This is a crucial step between prototype samples and first production samples. Presenting prototype samples to your target market allows for feedback and adjustments before the final commitment to manufacturing. Minor adjustments can still be made during this step in recipe formulation, packaging design and marketing strategies and can save you time and money in the long run.
After completing the test marketing stage, you may have received feedback from consumers, operations and from product testing which require you to make changes to your product or packaging. The results from your sensory evaluations, operational changes and sampling will be reflected in revised product specifications. At this time, you will also look to confirm both the artwork and configuration of your packaging. Consider if any of the product details have changed and whether you will need to make updates to the Nutrient Facts or ingredient statement.
Once the final adjustments are complete, the first production round can take place at your facility or your selected co-manufacturer.
Introduction to Market / Product Launch
Congratulations! Your product is now ready for the final phase, introduction to the market. This phase is also the first stage of the product life cycle. As your product is brought into market, your team can continue to monitor and report on its’ success. It’s also important to have a plan in place as you receive feedback from consumers on the new product.