Product Development | Meaning | Methods | Categories | Stages

What is Product Development?

Product development is a specialized activity which may result in creation of new products or modification in the production process to produce the same product. Development is necessary to fulfill old and new wants as well and to adjust with the changes in the consumer’s demand or with an object to achieve greater production efficiency and more profits.

Product Development - Meaning, Methods, Categories, Stages
Product Development – Meaning, Methods, Categories, Stages

Definition of Product Development

Product development is the next step to product planning. It is the process of finding out the possibilities of producing a product. It includes the decisions such as — whether it would be feasible or not to produce the product.

The term ‘product development’ has been defined as under:

“Product development encompasses the technical activities of product research, engineering and design.”

— William J.Stanton

“Product development involves the adding, dropping, and modification of item specifications in the product line for a given period of time, usually one year.”

— Limpson and Darling

Some scholars are of the view that product development includes the changes in the size, design, characteristics, colour and packing, etc., of the product.

Thus, product development includes the following — addition of a new product line to the product mix of the enterprise, elimination of a running product line from this product mix, addition of new product items to a product line, elimination of some existing product items from a product line, changes in the size, colour, design, packing, form, quality, characteristics and price of a product, and discontinuation of an unprofitable product etc.

In short, devising a product to meet the changing requirements of the markets is known as product development.

In other words, the aim of product development is to

  1. provide the goods the market demands in time,
  2. adjust with the variation in quantity required, and
  3. charge the price which the consumer is willing to pay after ensuring reasonable profits for the organization.

Methods of Product Development

Product development is one of the important aspects of industrial research. Product can be developed in one of the three methods:

By imitation: Product development by imitation consists of marketing another product similar to one in the market.

By improvement or adaptation: Product development by adaptation refers to developing an improved product for an already existing market.

By innovation or invention: Product improvement consists of modification and improvement in the existing quality, size, form or design of the existing product so that it may appear almost like a new product. It includes the following:

  1. Improvement in quality,
  2. Improvement in features,
  3. Improvement in style,
  4. Improvement in packing.

Finally, the product development by invention concerns itself with the development of entirely a new product resulting an increase in the product line. Product innovation is essential also to diversify the risks of business.

Categories of Product Development

Product development can be divided into two main categories, namely,

  1. Introduction of new products and
  2. Improvement of existing products.

There are four main tools for development of products viz., standardization, simplification, specialization and diversification. All these have a direct relation with production process and the acceptability of the product in market.

Introduction of a New Product

There should be sufficient market research activities and sales promotion work before introducing any product in the market. They are essential because the chances of a new product failing in the market are quite high. The company should properly evaluate the potential market for the product and for an effective production planning, behavior pattern of the market change in technology, etc., should be carefully analyzed and assessed. The new product should have the capability to replace the existing ones. This can be accomplished by proper designing and development of the product.

Improvement of Existing Product

Every manufacturer continuously endeavors to improve his product. For example, in automobile car industry, in 1920s there were two wheel brakes in Sedans, Roodesters cars, etc., within a short period they were replaced by four wheel brakes with self starters.

In 1950s power brakes and power steering and streamlining were introduced. Over the years, a number of developments in the automobile industry had taken place. Air-conditioned cars with improved tyres came into use. Similarly, refrigerators with larger freezing units, were developed with passage of time. Probably the most important factor contributing towards product development is the functional demand of the ultimate consumer.

In short, product development is the work contributing towards improvements in the existing product by way of improved ideas, systems, techniques etc.

Stages of Product Development

Product development activity of an enterprise should be conducted by a separate department within the organization, which should be technically sound to perform its duties. The product development programme should be conducted in the following stages:

1. Fundamental relationship between cause and effect involved in the manufacturing process of the designed products as well as the basic technology required in the system should be established by conducting fundamental research.

2. Suitable ways and means are then devised to translate the technology and relationship between cause and effect into practice.

3. Experimental work is carried on to develop a desirable production system.

4. The formulated design, quality, performance and the marketability of the planned product is thoroughly tested and tried to locate shortcomings, if any, and to suggest appropriate improvements..

5. Product engineering techniques are used to find improvement possibilities in the existing product.