Stage 4: Testing and validation
So far, a product prototype has been developed and initial testing has been done. If you have not already done so, you need to initiate trial or pilot production in order to test and debug the production process and to determine more precise production costs and rates.
In addition, you need to assess whether the product finds satisfactory market acceptance. Unlike previous stages, a product prototype is now available that can be tested outside the company's 'laboratory'. It is crucial to test whether the product and the marketing concept satisfy consumers in the marketplace. Testing the product in a real market environment brings you into direct interaction with customers who have not been pre-selected. Test marketing provides you with fairly solid product performance and quality measures. And if customers can test the product in a real-life situation, they will also tell you whether they are truly satisfied with the product.
So, think about the target group(s) and where your product can be sold. And, please beware, new products are bought by a certain type of person, probably not the same people who will buy it when it is no longer new. Do you know which groups they are? The point(s) of sale you choose for your product will have a big influence on the result as well. Does the place fit the image you want the product to have? Do you reach your target group in a way that makes the product attractive? Will you get the 'right' consumers?
The marketing plan, production technology, logistics, graphic design, packaging and countless other things should all be synchronized, and should be in place by the time the product is launched.
A big part of the product development process therefore involves holding a lot of information in your head and having several 'part projects' running at the same time.
Consequently it is very important not to start projects that are bigger than the company can handle. That assessment should be made on the basis of experience, resources, and the time you have at your disposal.
In real projects, the following advice applies:
- Time: the right things for the right time.
- Quality: do things correctly.
- Conduct tests with your customers.
- Make adjustments, test again.
- Let the marketing plan be an integrated part of the product development.
- Never stop developing the product.