Another reason for product failure

Topics: Best Practices | Product Development Process

So often, when developing new products, new product developers get caught up in the beauty of the solution. But, so often dreams are dashed and the product never catches on. We blame marketing and sales, we blame the customer who didn’t see the value of the product, and we are dumbfounded that even though we designed the best solution to a problem, no one wanted it.

As a product developer, you need to consider these questions:

  • What happens when the product is launched?
  • How do people learn about your product?
  • How do they decide whether to try it?
  • How long does this take?

So, what can you do while developing the new product to maximize its chances of success? It starts with integrating your product development process with the innovation decision process.

The product development process

Here is a high-level, generic product development (PD) process (Figure 1).

phased and gated process

Product launch is where the product developer often stops actively working with the new product. We can add two more phases to the generic process (Figure 2). Diffusion & adoption encompasses how people learn about new innovations, make the decision on whether to try the innovation and whether they ultimately adopt it. Consequences, represents the ultimate success or failure of the new product. We are not proponents of adding additional steps to your process, but think of these as important steps to consider when launching your product.

PD Process with the integration of the innovation decision process (Figure 2)

innovation decision process integrated with the product development process

There are things we can do, as product developers, to improve the chance that our new product will catch on and be a success. Everett M. Rogers, author of “Diffusion of Innovations” and grandfather of diffusion theory offers many insights into how innovations are adopted and how characteristics of innovations can help or hinder adoption.

The Innovation Decision Process

Rogers uses a model of the innovation decision process in describing diffusion and adoption theory. Different forms of diffusion and different types of adopters impact how quickly people learn about an innovation and move through the innovation decision process, ultimately either accepting or rejecting an innovation.

knowledge stage the person becomes aware of the innovation, how to use it and how it works as well as its advantage over other products.  Mass media is usually an efficient way to aid people in becoming aware of the innovation.

persuasion stage, the person becomes more actively and psychologically involved with the innovation, and seeks out information, ultimately forming a favorable or an unfavorable attitude toward the innovation.  Because there is uncertainty with a new innovation, at this stage people feel a need for social reinforcement of their attitude, that they are on the right track with their peers.  Mass media is too general to provide the kind of reinforcement needed, so often personal interactions are important at this point.  People move through this stage at different rates.

decision stage, people engage in activities that lead to adopting or rejecting an innovation.  The ability to try out the product is important in this stage.  There are different things you can do to affect whether or not someone tries and adopts the product.

If the person decides to use the product they move into the implementation stage, where they put the innovation to use.  There is a lot of information-seeking at this stage and change agents need to focus on providing technical assistance.  This stage ends when the person no longer considers the innovation new, it has become routinized.

Even if the person, has purchased the innovation, it doesn’t mean they have adopted it.  In the last stage, confirmation, the person seeks reinforcement.  The person may reject the innovation to adopt a better one, or they may become dissatisfied with the innovation.  Sometimes dissatisfaction comes from misuse, or finding that the innovation is too expensive to maintain.

Be sure to consider Roger’s innovation decision process the next time you launch your product.  You don’t have to wait at the launch stage, to consider these important steps.  Start as soon as possible, to get your product diffused and adopted as soon as possible.

More on diffusion of new products

Read this related article for more information on encouraging diffusion of your new product.

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