From the market share and cost points of view, why is the distinction between features and needs so significant in the field of product innovation?
The main reason why any company would choose to engage in product innovation is to increase their market share, the number of people using their products, with a view to gaining additional profits from the new clientele. To do this, it is important that the product addresses specific needs of the consumer that it had previously not addressed, that is consumer preferences; or if it is a new product, to address some particular needs that products from other companies which serve the same purpose are not addressing. The distinction between features of products and the needs of the consumer is therefore important to gauge if the product is actually meeting the needs of the consumer. If not, then product innovation comes in so that the necessary adjustments are made and the product becomes the preferred choice in the target market. If the features are focused on addressing such needs, then it is likely that the market share will be increased and additional profits will be made. These profits will then offset the costs that the company incurred in re- launching the product or producing a new product. Therefore features of a product should be always be considered vis-à-vis the needs of the clients in the target market.
You are the product manager for a line of washing machines when your business buys a competitor. Now you have two lines of washing machines to manage. You know the benefits of basing a product line on a platform and luckily so did your competitor! You are considering merging the two platforms. How would you decide whether to use your platform or their platform? What other options are there? Who would you work with to make that decision? What are the pros and cons of making changes?
Platform based product development simply means that production of a particular product is based on a single platform/design strategy or component assets, which is then used to produce many differentiated products that cater to different consumer tastes. This has several advantages, among them the fact that mass production can be achieved within a shortened period of time which reduces production costs in the process of diversification of products. Since the two lines of washing machine are based on platform product development, then when merging the two lines and their platforms, it will be important for the company to consider which platform is more advantageous than the other. These key points to consider will be, first and foremost, which platform is capable of producing more products, which platform has a wider range of diversified products, which platform has products that are selling at a faster rate than the other and lastly, which platform is easier to design from such that it will not lead to additional financial costs. If a platform is easier to produce from and has a wider range of products that are selling at a faster rate than the other, then it will be more desirable to use. Other options include borrowing concepts from both platforms to come up with an entirely different third platform that contains the desirable elements from each platform. In making such a decision, it would be important to work with the sales people who will advise on which products sell or are likely to sell at a faster rate thereby facilitating the decision making process. It would also be important to consult the designing team who will advise on which design is more cost effective and more practical. The benefits of making changes to the design are an increase in sales and an increased customer base, while the cons include additional expenses when making these changes and a likelihood that the new product may not appeal to the market.
Identify three reasons why speed and efficiency are important when evaluating concepts.
Speed and efficiency are extremely important when evaluating concepts because, first and foremost, it is time saving, that is, a lot will be achieved within a shorter period of time. When a team is very quick in evaluating a concept and pointing out any apparent loopholes, then they will be able to implement it faster than if they took too much time trying to analyze and grasp the concept. Efficiency means that they are accurate in their decisions, can easily recognize any weaknesses and have ready remedies. In such a scenario, everything is likely to be achieved within a shorter period of time and the implemented concept is likely to be devoid of any obvious mistakes. The second importance of speed and efficiency is that the company will be able to maximize profits while minimizing cost. Since the team evaluating the concept is fast and efficient, there is a lower chance of any mistakes in the final product which saves costs in terms of failing to launch a product on time or having to recall a product from the market. Also, the fact that the concept is implemented within a short period of time will reduce the finances concerned with the evaluation process and since implementation occurs fast, then profits are realized faster while the costs are minimized. Thirdly, speed and efficiency in evaluating concepts is important in ensuring that as many concepts as possible are evaluated within the shortest time possible before a decision on which concept to use is finally arrived at. Sluggishness may mean that only a few concepts are evaluated, and one which is not the best may be chosen just to save on time.
Identify five reasons why sales people might not embrace a product and what the cross functional team might be able to do ahead of time to keep this from happening.
Reasons for not selling
The first reason that sales people might not embrace a product is because they feel that it will not sell since it is probably not in line with the consumer tastes and preferences; it does not address the needs of the market, making it a particularly hard product to sell. The second reason may be that the product is poorly packaged and is unappealing to the consumer, such that the sales people are at a loss on how to present it to the consumer. The third reason may be that the product lacks identity in the market since it has no unique distinguishing features that set it apart from other similar products rendering the sales team at a loss on how to present it in the market. The fourth reason is if the company has not marketed the product adequately and the sales people are the ones actually introducing the product to the market which makes it hard for them to convince the consumer to purchase the new product. The fifth reason is if the product is overpriced which make it hard for them to convince consumers to purchase it.
How to avoid situation
To avoid this situation, it is important for the cross functional team to consult the sales team from the onset when the product is being designed, down to its packaging so that they can provide an in depth market analysis on which product is likely to sell. Sales people are always in contact with the market and therefore have a more in depth understanding of how the market works. If they feel that a product will not sell, then it most probably will not.
What are the risks of overlapping activities and stages (such as development and launch)? How could a team leader manage/prepare their team and their management? How could the team mitigate some of the risks?
The risk of overlapping activities and stages in the product development and launch process is the fact that there is a higher likelihood for many mistakes being made. For instance when development and launch of a product overlap, there may not be enough time to engage in market analysis therefore the product may not accurately address the needs of the consumer. Secondly, in the event that the product is launched before development has been successfully completed then there is the risk that if the launch is met with a high demand, the company may not have the capacity and the supply stock to be able to meet this demand. The product may end up being presented in the market when it is half baked and may not be presented in a proper manner since time has not been taken in organizing the launch of the product. A team leader should ensure that the team is ready at all times to take part in any activity and launch. To mitigate some of the risks, the team can develop several plans parallel to each other that will be used during all stages and product production activities and the team leader needs to ensure that each team member is conversant with each plan. Division of duties within the team is also essential to ensure that every stage in the production process is taken care of.