The tiny town of Billund, Denmark, is best known for being the birthplace of the beloved Lego toy brand. From its humble beginnings as a wooden toy to its iconic plastic brick structure recognized worldwide, Lego is an enduring example of product development done right. 

While Lego construction kits remain popular among children and adult consumers, Legos have also crossed over into the theme park industry. You can visit one of the many Legoland amusement parks in North America, Europe, or Asia today and see for yourself how Lego has cemented its place in popular culture. 

Companies should make it their top priority to create meaningful products or services that would allow them to enjoy success on a level similar to that of Lego. Although it takes plenty of trial and error to make your mark in today’s business world, organizations would benefit from focusing on the product development aspect of their operations.  

In this article, we will examine the various stages of the product development process, what factors into its success, and any challenges that may arise along the way.

What is the product development process?

There are times when businesses mistakenly assume their new invention will be well received by consumers and immediately sell. When this assumption doesn’t become reality, it can negatively impact sales as well as investors’ perception of your business. To avoid this sticky situation, companies need to take product development seriously. 

Product development is the process of bringing a new product to market. It begins with the birth of an exciting idea and ends with a strategic launch that can generate great sales for your business. Product development involves coming up with innovative ideas, researching your customer needs, designing and testing prototypes, and then pushing the product into the consumer marketplace.

Why is it important?

For any organization looking to build a solid reputation and client base, product development should be high on the priority list. Because customers tend to shift their demands and preferences over time, it is in a company’s best interest to continually innovate and introduce new products to the market. Not only will it diversify your product portfolio, it will also expand your client base and increase your revenue stream. Just like the ever-popular Lego toys, your organization also has the potential to create products and services that command international attention and appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds.

People playing with Lego on a flat surface
Photo by Amelie Mourichon on Unsplash

The stages of the product development process

Now that you have an idea of what product development is all about, let’s jump into the stages that make up this process.

1. Idea generation and screening

Product development begins with generating ideas and evaluating their feasibility, as you only want to move forward with the products that show the most promise. 

  • Hold brainstorming sessions with your team to create a list of workable ideas for a product. Be sure to review past customer feedback for inspiration. 
  • Gather data on consumer preferences, market trends, and competitors. Perhaps there is a need for a particular product that your company can capitalize on!
  • Evaluate your list of ideas, screening each one for factors such as market size, target audience, technical feasibility, and profitability.

2. Concept development and testing

With your best ideas shortlisted, move on to developing concepts and prototypes. This stage calls for detailed product designs, prototype testing, and feedback from potential customers.

  • Create product designs that outline your proposed product’s features, specifications, and functionality. Ask the engineers, designers, and other stakeholders to verify that the concept meets the desired requirements.
  • Make physical or digital models of the product to test its functionality and gather feedback. Your prototypes can range from simple mock-ups to fully functional models, depending on how complex the product is.
  • Have potential customers interact with the prototype and write down their feedback. The goal is to fix any noticeable flaws and get a grasp on how customers might react when your product is finally released.

3. Business and marketing strategy development

It’s time to agree on a business and marketing strategy to propel your product to success. During this phase, your company will analyze market trends, identify target customer segments, and determine the positioning and pricing strategies.

  • Analyze the market to see if there are any opportunities or threats to take note of. Also review your target customer segments and zone in on their needs, preferences, and buying behavior.
  • Based on your market and target clients, decide how your product stands out when compared to other companies. Price your product competitively, but make sure it is high enough to generate sufficient profit margins.
  • Craft a marketing plan that includes the tactics and activities needed to successfully launch your product. Figure out which marketing channels to emphasize, finalize your brand message, and set sales targets.

Wrike product screenshot showing a marketing campaign bar chart

Key factors in successful product development

While there are many elements involved in a product development process done right, these key factors stand out as non-negotiables for success.

Market research and consumer insights

  • Market research: Use market data to identify the demand for a particular product. If your idea matches the demand, this is the green light to go ahead and start creating your product. Make sure to be intentional and selective when deciding on features, pricing, and positioning!
  • Consumer insights: Determine what your customers want by conducting surveys and focus groups. Taking note of what your client base wants as well as their buying habits can help your product development team create a product that will improve lives and exceed expectations. Remember, making an emotional connection is the key.

Innovation and creativity

  • Innovation: Any company can launch a product or service for sale, but the real test is whether or not you can sell something that sets you apart from the competition. Approach product development with an open mind and don’t hesitate to allow your employees to experiment. If you think outside the box, you are more likely to develop products that intrigue consumers. 
  • Creativity: Not only do you have to come up with a creative proposal for a product, you also need to use that creativity in every other aspect of the product development process. For example, your engineers and designers can focus on designing intuitive user experiences and visually appealing aesthetics. Doing so can delight your customers, as they notice that your product is both functional and nice to look at! 

Quality control and testing

To end up with a high-quality final product, your business must have quality control measures in place. This includes everything in product development, from sourcing raw materials to manufacturing and final inspection. 

  • Test all prototypes and samples. If there are any performance issues, functionality gaps, or design flaws, your team can catch these mistakes and fix them before your product reaches the market. Remember, your customers are looking to purchase products at the best price with the highest standards of quality and reliability.
  • Rigorous testing keeps your clients satisfied and confident with how reliable their potential purchase would be. Those that get to test your products need to know for certain that the product will perform as expected and meet their needs. If this condition is satisfied, these customers are more likely to become repeat buyers who spread the good news about your company via word of mouth.

Challenges in the product development process

If product development were easy, every business out there would enjoy continued success. Let’s take a look at several challenges that your company may face, along with suggestions to get past these issues. 

Managing time and cost

Developing products can be a time-consuming process, involving various stages such as ideation, design, prototyping, testing, and production. Each of these stages requires careful planning, coordination, and execution.

What you should do:

  • Manage your time by setting realistic timelines for each stage of the product development process. Take into account the product’s complexity, the resources available, and the potential challenges that may come up. 
  • Manage costs to avoid going over the budget. Accurately estimate how much things will cost by considering the price points of your raw materials, labor, equipment, and any other additional expenses. 
  • Make sure your project managers know what they’re doing. They must allocate resources properly, monitor progress closely, and communicate any delays that arise.

Dealing with competition

While your business is burning the midnight oil to ensure a successful product launch, your competitors are also working just as hard to come out on top. 

What you should do:

  • Make your product stand out by researching what your customers want and need. Develop strong branding strategies and highlight them in marketing campaigns. Your potential customers need to know what makes you special. Why should they buy from you when there are so many other tempting alternatives?

Overcoming technical challenges

Remember the ‘technical difficulties’ announcement on the intercom at school or work? These difficulties are everywhere in product development, especially when working with complex technologies or unique product requirements. 

What you should do:

  • Set aside a budget for conducting feasibility studies and testing to overcome the difficulties. Feedback from experts in the field would also be a great helping hand.
  • Embrace a culture of continuous improvement. Stay updated with the latest technology, attend industry conferences, and hold career development workshops for your employees.

Use Wrike’s product development tools for success

Coming up with a game-changing product idea and then working toward its debut launch into the marketplace can be an exciting time for businesses. 

With Wrike, you can master and manage your product development processes, track progress, and make sure your products are exactly what the market needs.

What’s more, Wrike even offers several features that can take your product development strategy to the next level. Take a look at these examples: 

  • Dashboards to keep track of various tasks, like generating product ideas and conducting market research
  • Proofing software to allow stakeholders and potential customers to give feedback on your up-and-coming products
  • Custom request forms to take down any important notes or request feedback 

If you’re ready to be the next company that comes out with a groundbreaking invention, you’re on the right path. Start your free trial of Wrike today.

Note: This article was created with the assistance of an AI engine. It has been reviewed and revised by our team of experts to ensure accuracy and quality.