Developing a new product
Deciding on a product to develop and getting started
“Can I copy another product?”
Generating ideas for products that have a realistic chance of commercial success is one of the more challenging of the steps in the process of ‘getting started’. Ideas tend to be generated based on experience (what do we, our families and friends like) or simply a good idea can ‘pop up’. The abundant supply of a raw material can also stimulate new ideas (supply-driven product development). Copies or ‘me too,’ product development is simply a copy of an existing product. This approach is fine but there must be a market – the challenge is persuading existing consumers to change allegiance. One advantage of the ‘copy’ approach is that consumers are familiar with that type of product so less expenditure is required for launching and educating consumers than for an entirely new product.
When you first start and even if you are following a tried and tested recipe/formulation, it is very important that you record every step including quantities, time taken for each step (including any delays) and temperatures of heated mixture, methods of mixing etc. It is also important that you find out how acceptable your product is and the perfect way to do this is to get a group of consumers (taste panels) to assess your product. Taste panels commonly use what is known as the Hedonic Scale and complete a questionnaire (see Appendix 1). Taste panel scores that average above 6 are considered to be acceptable taking into account the comments included in the evaluation forms.
When taking your product to the market it is important to define and address the competition. A significant factor in overcoming the competition is to persuade consumers that they are getting value for money. As such price is an important (but not the only) motivator for market purchase. At each stage during the product development process a watchful eye must be kept on the final costs of production and hence the likely final price. One simple rule of thumb is to multiply the costs of all the raw materials by three and add on 10%. This will give an indication of the production costs but distribution and profit margins must be added.