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Innovation Management. Kevin O’Brien. New Products & Market Testing. Learning objectives. Appreciate the importance of balancing consumer needs, technical feasibility and business viability in new product development (NPD) Be able to describe the main evaluation steps in the NPD process

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innovation management

Innovation Management

Kevin O’Brien

New Products &

Market Testing

learning objectives
Learning objectives
  • Appreciate the importance of balancing consumer needs, technical feasibility and business viability in new product development (NPD)
  • Be able to describe the main evaluation steps in the NPD process
  • Understand the (classical) role of marketing research in NPD
  • Have an awareness of different approaches to market testing
the challenge
The Challenge

(Source: IDEO)

how to maximise successes
How to maximise successes?
  • Improve odds on each individual product
    • market research, segmentation, competitor analysis etc.
    • linear NPD process
    • predictable, incremental new products (the 90%)
  • Introduce many products in quick succession and hope one succeeds
    • probe and learn, market experimentation, expeditionary marketing
    • iterative NPD process
    • highly innovative (discontinuous) new products (the 10%)
conventional npd process

Development phases

Evaluation phases







Pre-production model


Launch model


Conventional NPD Process

Title of ‘evaluation set’

Idea screening

Concept testing

Business analysis

Product testing

(functional & market)


Post-launch evaluation

sources of ideas

Intuition, associations of ideas


Features, functions, benefits

Analogy, force relationships


Gap analysis, perceptual mapping


Activity analysis, problem analysis, scenario analysis

Sources of Ideas
empathic design
Empathic design
  • How to identify latent customer needs?
    • Evident but not yet obvious
  • Problem identification
    • Problems and frustrations with current solutions
  • Story-telling
    • How do you behave?
    • How do you feel?
    • Listen to customers’ stories
  • Observation
    • Observation in a natural setting
    • Product selection and use

(Leonard & Rayport, 1997)

concept development testing
Concept Development & Testing
  • Concept development
    • detailed description of the idea stated in terms meaningful to the customer
  • Concept testing
    • present to target consumers as words, pictures, physical mock-up or virtual reality form
    • assessment of benefits, willingness to purchase, acceptable price
    • initial target market profiling
  • Concepts offering potential are progressed
concept development testing1
Concept Development & Testing
  • Consumer perceptions
    • Concept uniqueness
    • Concept believability
    • Ability to solve problem
    • Inherent interest
    • Value for money
  • Concept presentation
    • Line drawings
    • Photographs
    • Storyboards
    • Mock-ups
business analysis
Business Analysis
  • Development costs
    • R&D capabilities, time to market
  • Market potential
    • target market, positioning, sales, market share & profit forecasts
  • Marketing costs
    • promotion, distribution, sales force etc
  • Business attractiveness
    • return on investment, level of risk
    • forecasts of first time sales, repeat sales, rate of adoption & replacement sales
  • How important is this project to the overall business strategy?
product development testing
Product Development & Testing
  • Concept developed into a workable product
  • Design and development challenges:
    • technical feasibility
    • customer needs
    • ease of manufacture
  • Initial models produced which undergo:
    • Functional testing
    • Consumer testing
    • Channel testing
  • Does the product fulfil the concept statement?
product development testing1
Product Development & Testing
  • Product-related decisions
    • Content & form of presentation (number of product variants?)
    • Disclosure of identity (blind or branded?)
    • Explanation/supervision of test
  • Location of test
  • Use of comparator products
  • Consumer panels
    • Representative?
  • Ad hoc surveys
    • Who? When? Where?
lead users
Lead users
  • Innovators/early-adopters
    • Pioneers in (B2B) markets
    • Can’t find processes/materials/equipment to meet novel requirements
    • Already working on innovations/prototypes
  • Early experience with problem
    • Rich and accurate feedback
  • Highly motivated
    • Beta-tests, early market probes, joint development
  • But not easy to identify …..
    • Start with generic problem, network contacts, workshops

(von Hippel, 1988)

market testing
Market testing
  • Product (and marketing programme) are tested in realistic market conditions prior to full-scale launch
    • product, advertising, positioning, distribution, branding, pricing, packaging, sales budgets
  • Acts as a final screen in the NPD process
    • cancel projects which fare badly
  • Provides real data to test assumptions from market research, analysis and planning
    • improved sales and profit forecasts
  • Costly, time-consuming, highly visible
market testing1
Market testing
  • Standard test markets
    • full marketing campaign in small number of representative cities
    • store audits, consumer & channel surveys
  • Controlled test markets
    • panels of stores in different geographical locations
    • panels of shoppers
  • Simulated test markets
    • simulated shopping environments
probe learn npd process
“Probe & learn” NPD process
  • Gain market insights by experimentation
    • launch early versions of products into plausible initial markets
    • learn from these small-scale market trials
    • modify the product and marketing approach
    • launch again, and again, and again ……
  • Learning and adaptation rather than analysis
  • A process of “successive approximation”
  • Important in directing the development effort
  • Appropriate when technologies and markets are uncertain

(Lynn et al., 1996)

probe learn npd process1
“Probe & learn” NPD process
  • Notebook market (1986-90)
    • 30+ product launches
      • Hard disks/floppy disks
      • Microprocessor speeds
      • LCD/plasma screens
      • Price points
    • Explored every market niche
    • Withdrew more products than competitors had launched
    • Achieved market leadership

Leonard, D. and Rayport, J.F. (1997) Spark innovation through empathic design, Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec, 102-113.

Lynn, G.S., Morone, J.G. and Paulson, A.S. (1996) Marketing and discontinuous innovation: the probe and learn process, California Management Review, 38(3), 8-37.

Von Hippel, E. (1988) The sources of innovation, New York: Oxford University Press.