How to Market New and Successful Products

By Jeanette McMurtry

Being innovative can give you a strong competitive advantage in your market. A competitor’s major new product introduction probably changes the face of your market — and upsets your sales projections and profit margins — at least once every few years. So you can’t afford to ignore new product development. You should introduce new products as often as you can afford to.

For most, coming up with a new idea is the first hurdle. One you have jumped that hurdle, survey your customers, ask your salespeople what they come up against the most, and so on. There’s no single formula for inventing new products.

Give customers a chance to be involved in product development. Daybreak Game Company, LLC, formerly Sony Online Entertainment, invites users to help develop its new online game adventures and has achieved amazing loyalty and brand equity as a result. You just need to engage in a new and different thinking process.

Do something new to produce something new.

Partnering with experts to build and market new products

One of the most effective and powerful ways to develop and launch new products is to partner with experts in a given field. They provide the insights and technology for a product for which you are the exclusive commercial business partner and co‐owner of the product patent. Most such relationships involve licensing and royalty agreements that benefit and protect both parties.

More often than not, these experts can be found in the academic and research science fields as PhD research scientists and/or professors. If you’re in the sports industry and want to make a product to help improve the game and personal joy for weekend warriors who tend to be hitting middle age and the issues that go with it, it may make sense to work with sports scientists to develop a product that’s functional for sports activities and valuable for injury prevention, too.

That is what Kim Gustafson did when he launched Opedix, LLC, which produces compression tights to help ligaments avoid taking the wear and tear of prolonged motion. His goal was to create a product that would enable professional and recreational athletes to stay active longer, enhance their performance, and prevent injuries, too. Gustafson determined that no existing companies making similar products for injury prevention and performance support had scientific evidence to back up their product claims, so he teamed up with the world’s leading sports medicine laboratories, The Steadman Philippon Research Institute and the Human Dynamics Laboratory.

The team hypothesized that if a non‐stretch banding material were strategically integrated into the design of traditional compression tights, the banding should provide anatomical benefits. Using state‐of‐the‐art motion analysis systems/equipment, the hypothesis proved to be correct. This new product provided “directional compression,” and they applied for a patent for the Opedix Knee‐Tec Tights, which offer valid results for runners, skiers, and other athletes.

They identified both the sports and medical markets as opportunities. The sports market offered the path of least resistance (easier market entry).

Doing this alone would have been difficult and costly. Partnering with experts not only helped Gustafson develop a strong product, but it also added scientifically valid credibility for performance claims that would have been hard for him to get on his own.

Teaming up with experts in a field of science or technology to let them develop products for you offers many advantages, and you can do so in many different ways, including the following:

  • Pay developers upfront to create apps or technological products for you and assign ownership of the patent to you.
  • Split the costs of research and development and assign royalties on sales accordingly.
  • Secure an arrangement where you provide marketing and distribution and your partner all the R&D and production and then share the profits according to what makes sense given each party’s expenditure upfront.

Whatever you do, make sure you think of the short‐term and the long‐term impact of your contract. Partnering with experts can enable you to develop products your competitors don’t have and can’t get without developing them on their own, which is cost‐prohibitive. As a result, you can emerge as the leading innovator in your industry and the one to watch for consumers, investors, and more.

You have to be only one step ahead of your competition to win the game, not several, but you must stay ahead. Continuing to add products that are exclusive to your brand is a pretty sure way to do just that.

Getting marketing insights from customers

One of the best sources for new product ideas that fit your brand’s competencies and customers’ perceptions of you is to ask them. When you do a customer satisfaction survey, add a simple question that gives you powerful insights. Try asking the following:

  • Is there anything missing from our current product line that you would like to see us add?
  • Are there any services we can provide that would help you get greater efficiencies or functionality out of the products you currently purchase from us?
  • Of the following products or services, what are you most likely to trust us to deliver to you with the same quality we currently provide? (List new product or service ideas.)

Using the significant difference strategy

Remember, nearly all new products fail. Even big brands that once dominated their markets fail. Just do an Internet search for brands that have failed in 10 or 20 years and check out the long lists that pop up. Read how these brands fail and take notes not to follow their path.

To achieve real success, you have to introduce something that really looks new and different to the market. The product needs a clear point of difference. Innovations that consumers recognize quickly and easily provide the marketer with a greater return. Researchers who study new product success use the term intensity to describe this phenomenon. The more intense the difference between your new product and old products, the more likely the new product can succeed.

The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) publishes reviews of good new books on product development. PDMA also offers conferences, training, and other services to its members.