New product prototypes and market testing
Prototype testing is one of the most rewarding phases of new product development (NPD). Developing a prototype of your product allows you to bring your product to life for the first time and test it in its market. Your investment in market testing your prototype will help you prepare your product for market entry.
It is important to be careful and considered in this exciting stage of NPD. Take your time and invest in the human resources and expertise you need to perfect your new product.
Put someone in charge
Assign a member of your team (if not you) with strong project management skills to manage or coordinate the product development and delivery process. Ask your product development manager to maintain a practical, informative schedule and project plan that details the steps involved in developing your prototype and running your market testing.
Consult the experts
Product development specialists can help you streamline your process and avoid costly mistakes. Consider commissioning consultants who specialise in product engineering and design - for example, graphic or industrial designers, product engineers, product quality consultants, computer-aided design (CAD) specialists.
Protect your intellectual property (IP)
Commission a prototype of your product
Building a prototype helps establish whether your idea or invention will function, provides information necessary to building your new product or system, and highlights any flaws or defects in your design.
A product mock-up will help you determine how to package, brand and market your new product. It will also help you test the look and feel of the product in sample segments of your market. Calling on technical expertise to help you at this stage is prudent, especially if you are not experienced in product development.
You may also be eligible for funding to subsidise prototyping.
Test the product in action
Put your prototype into use in the type of situations it's required in. Identify the characteristics that are most important to your customers and test those attributes, repeatedly.
Run focus groups
Enlist the help of a market researcher to facilitate a focus group that will help you gauge the response of your sample target market. Interview your customers and take your prototype to as many informed people as possible.
You may need to improve your product based on feedback. Use this opportunity to make changes that will increase your product's chances of success. Retest the product within more specific conditions that help you evaluate your changes - for example, by conducting a further focus group with a market segment that your product changes will affect most.
Test it in your industry
Attend industry events and trade or consumer expos to get feedback on your prototype. Take the opportunity to generate market interest and capture details of interested customers who want to hear about your product launch or even place advance orders. Consider whether you need to prepare an initial run at this stage to test customer acceptance more broadly.
Develop a marketing strategy
Your marketing strategy will help you accurately segment and target the right market for your product, set clear marketing objectives, and develop marketing strategies and tactics for your market segments. Start by reviewing all the information you have gathered in your business and market analysis and market testing. Learn how to develop a marketing strategy.