Most new creators have no idea how to take a product from concept to market. That’s understandable as an entrepreneurial mindset doesn’t always come with an understanding of production strategies and distribution models. However, thanks to third party services and solutions, today’s innovators may find the process much more accessible than they did in the past. Contract manufacturers, collaborative developers, and a wide berth of information have given rise to an era of creation unseen in history.
Of course, this lower barrier to entry comes with one significant caveat: competition. As creators can access the tools they need to bring their concept to life, they’re going to face others in the market doing the same thing. Knowing how to take a product from concept to market quickly and affordably will help give them the edge.
How To Take A Product From Concept To Market
In most cases, a creator is going to have to work with a partner, or several partners, to make their way through the stages involved in taking a product to market. Otherwise, it would be far too costly and complicated to make their idea a reality. Here are the five standard steps most product development timelines will follow.
1. Research and validate the idea
The overall concept may be a good one, but it also may not be as useful or unique as the creator initially thought. At this stage, it’s wise to put together a team to determine if the idea is one that will be useful to the public when compared to already available options. This prevents a creator from moving on to an expensive prototyping phase when their idea is not one that would be in demand.
Another crucial factor is the novelty of the product. Most creators will need to patent their products to protect their designs. This can be a process fraught with complications and barriers. It’s so challenging, only 52% of patents are approved every single year. One of the most common reasons for denial is the design doesn’t meet the “novel” requirement. The novelty requirement states that something is not patentable if:
- It’s identical to an existing patent
- Its design was described in detail in a public document or forum.
- It’s identical to a product available to the public or in active use
There are some exceptions, but, for the most part, a product that falls into one of the above categories is not patentable and may even be infringing on an existing patent. It is vital to make sure the design is novel before the creator moves on to the next stage to avoid issues related to patentability.
2. Prototyping and testing
The prototyping stage will be one of the lengthiest for developing new products. During it, the creator will have to consider all the various options open to them, like 3D printing, CNC machining, molding, and casting, or some other method of product creation. However, before even considering that, they need to determine the level of fidelity—aka quality—they require from their prototype. There are three different levels.
Description and Uses
|This type of prototype will be near-identical to the final finished product, both in function and aesthetic. It’s best when presenting the product to potential buyers and investors.||All the features of a product will be incorporated into this prototype, but the cosmetic appearance may be rough and less “production-ready.” This is a good option when working with focus groups, as well as when submitting for patenting.||This is the roughest of the types and may only include a few of the key features of the product. This level is typically used as proof of concept and as a jumping-off point for testing.|
As this is the stage where the product design is refined, it’s not unusual to work through all three fidelity phases. The creator may build several low-fidelity prototypes to determine the best design and then move up to the higher fidelity stages once they have the essential features clearly defined.
3. Present the prototype to stakeholders
This presentation stage is sometimes called a soft-launch, and it involves presenting the prototype or first products to a group of interested parties. The parties may be potential buyers, investors, or focus groups. This stage isn’t just about gauging demand for the product. It’s also about testing and refining the concept.
Feedback received from the actual market for the product can be gathered and used to improve the design. The creator can get a better idea of what features are most important to their audience and start to lay out other plans based on this, like pricing, marketing, and distribution channels.
4. Establish a manufacturing plan
It’s a bit misleading to put the manufacturing plan as the next to last step because really, it’s something that should occur much earlier—right at the prototyping stage. While building the product, the prototype developer thinks about how that design will affect production. It’s a process called “design for manufacturing.” By ensuring optimized product design for mass recreation, the creator can cut issues with production out early on.
At this stage, the manufacturing plan should be more technical, in that the creator is finding contract manufacturers and other product partners to bring their concept to the masses. It also involves creating the tooling and sourcing the machinery needed to support this step.
5. Launch and research future market opportunities
Launching the original product is the most exciting part of the production process, but the work doesn’t end here. Aside from marketing, the creator should look for other opportunities in the market. Is there a way their product may be useful for another audience? Are there improvements or expansions they should consider for their line. This method of continuous innovation is what turns a single creation into a global product line.
Using an End-to-End Product Creation Solution
One way to streamline product creation is to seek out an end-to-end solution. That means working with a company that can take the creator through all the design stages, from collaborating with them on the initial concept, to providing their first small manufacturing run and giving them feedback on potential improvements. Having such a relationship is more cost-effective, faster, and more secure than using several different partners. It allows the creator to work with someone who truly understands their products.
Partnerships are a significant component of how to take a product from concept to market as these individuals have the experience needed to act as guides. Creators don’t have to worry about quickly developing business skills regarding supply chain management, manufacturing, and prototyping as they’re benefiting from the knowledge of others. This makes them more flexible and speeds the process, which helps them gain an edge even in the most competitive markets.
PRL is a full-service product development company that specializes in all aspects of production, from design to product fabrication and prototyping. Our experts are here to guide you through the full product development process, including the ideation, design, creation, and management of your product idea.