Concept development is one of the essential and critical stages of new product development steps. Once an idea is generated and that idea is screened for its quality, then the concept development stage follows. The development of the concept is carried out by keeping in mind the needs of the customers as well as the nature of the product. Concept development is essential because it helps the customers how they want to perceive your product in the market.
Every company follows the process of new product development whenever they intend to launch in the latest product, variant or a new service in the market. There may be multiple concepts from different sources which the company is evaluating. It is essential to weed out the unwanted ones and find out the ones which resemble the customers and fulfills their needs. The important thing is that the concept should be simple to understand, well-defined, and should have a predictable outcome. It should be good enough to convince customers to buy the product.
The development of concept should be in synchronization with the marketing objectives as when is the vision and mission of the organization. For example, if the vision and mission of the organization is to be the number one, most trusted, and most valued electronic gadgets provider in the industry then, it wouldn’t make sense to develop a concept of an innovative and healthy superfood.
The entire purpose of developing the product is to answer the question of why a customer would buy this product over the competitor products. The concept of the product is what the company wants the customers to think about their brand or product. For example, there is a perception that Apple makes the most innovative products and devices in the market.
The tagline says ‘Think Different,’ which gives the impression that the products are ‘different’ and creative. It also appears to appeal the customers to think out of the box and instead of buying regular android devices, they should go ahead with Apple devices.
6 Stages in concept development
The concept development may vary depending on the product and the nature of the industry. There may be several steps that may get added or reduced, depending on the company and the expected outcome.
However, there are a few typical stages that are present in every concept development irrespective of the product and industry. Following a few of these stages of concept development:
1. Focus on Customer needs | Concept Development
The initial phase of concept development Starts with focusing on the needs of the customer. A detailed description of the project including its idea, its benefits and advantages for the customers, its feasibility from an economic point of view for the organization, and its return on investment for the organization should be chalked out. A Primary list of hurdles that you may encounter should be prepared.
Along with these hurdles, the possible solutions that can be implemented to get rid of those problems should be mentioned. The entire idea of concept development revolves only around the needs of the customers. It is essential to get the customer needs correctly so that the product which you are going to develop will have a strong base.
The customer will form the base of your concept because it is to address these needs that a solution or a product or service is going to be developed.
2. Know your customers
Once you finish analyzing the customer needs, then you have to understand the profile of the customers. It is essential to keep the customers in mind during the entire process of Concept Development. A detailed profile of the customer should be known before the starting of concept development. The potential buyer is also an influencer who will influence the decisions of many others.
There could be changes in the product which are required to be made purely based on the customer profile. It is essential to get a proper understanding of the different types of customers if they are being targeted. The product should be made in such a way that it fits all customer profiles and if that is not possible, then the product should be developed in such a way that it can be customised to suit the needs of all customers with minimum modifications. For example, Apple has developed iPhones, which are common and can be used in any part of the world.
The function, the hardware, and the software are the same for all the iPhones. The difference is only in the model of the phone. Thus Apple has been able to develop a product standard for all customers and which satisfies the needs of everyone. On the other hand, McDonald’s which is known for its burgers has been able to develop customized burgers for all parts of the world.
For example, America has hamburgers but countries like India do not have beef patty in their burgers. Instead, vegetable substitutes are used. While in middle eastern countries, pork meat is substituted and beef burgers are allowed. Thus, with little changes, McDonald’s has been able to satisfy and fulfill the needs of all customer profiles.
3. Competition Analysis | Concept Development
Going ahead in concept development the next step is to understand your competition. Sometimes there may be instances when the product is the first of its kind and there is no competition in the market, but more often than not, competition is always present.
It is essential to understand your competition better than your customers appreciate it. There could be some unmet needs in the market which are not fulfilled by competition and it is essential to know those needs and develop a product which addresses them along with other requirements.
A detailed and stepwise analysis of competition is necessary to understand how you can act in the market. The first step in a competitor analysis is to classify your competition into different categories like primary, secondary and so on. This classification may be based on the direct threat, presence in the market or based on the price.
It is essential to consider only the local competition and not global competition when the product is going to be launched locally. Use resources for competitor analysis like studying the website of competitors, interviewing the current customers who are using their products. The freely available material of competition like their free content, marketing materials, advertising strategy should be studied and analyzed thoroughly to understand the extent of their marketing potential. Then a detailed study about their services and distribution channels that they use should be done.
This analysis will help to understand the supply chain management of the competition. Next is to identify the areas of opportunities that are present in the market. Understanding competition is as important as understanding your customers.
4. Composing the primary feature
One of the most crucial elements of your product as well as your business is to have the value proposition. The value proposition should explain the benefits of the product that are delivered to the customers and how it addresses their needs. Different tools like value proposition canvas can help you to define the hurdles that customers face and the plan to build a product.
The important thing is to focus on the advantages that your product is the offering and convert them into benefits so that customers can understand it. It is the benefits of the product that will turn the customer rather than advantages. For example, the strength of Domino’s Pizza is that it is available within reach of 30 minutes but there is no benefit to the customer apart from fulfilling their hunger super fast. It will not attract health-conscious customers. This is why focusing on benefits is more important than promoting advantages.
Another such example is that of the iPhone. Although the phone has the advantage of being a premium-looking phone, the price of the product is very high for a common man. This is why it is essential to have a unique selling proposition or a value proposition of your product which will appeal to the customers.
For example, your product should be able to make life more comfortable with the customers by breaking down the current multiple-step process into a single step or it should be able to save time and add convenience to their routine.
5. Investor friendly and customer friendly materials | Concept Development
The next thing is to visualize your concept as a complete business model and display it to the team or the potential customers. It can also be presented to potential investors because they have a huge stake in your business. You will get an investment only if the investors find your idea appeasing and a concrete plan to achieve and build that idea. Having an excellent concept is a different thing and breaking it down in achievable steps to generate business, in reality, is a different thing entirely.
Having various tools like a landing page, a website, or a virtual depiction of your product are a few of the things that you can create for investors and potential customers. A landing page of a website should be easy to load, Internet as well as mobile-friendly, have all the required information about the product at a glance in understandable and straightforward terms, have animations of the product or simple tutorials to understand the use of the product and contact details of the company.
If the product is going to be having a breakthrough pricing, then the landing page can also have the pricing information or the offer or discount information in bold. With the help of advanced computer animation and graphics, the entire workflow of the product right from availability in the market and to its optimum use including customer use can be developed. This concept of developing an animated version of your product is also essential in incidences of crowdfunding.
The investors should be able to see the benefits of your product, and they should be able to relate with the needs of the customer in the market which will give them a realization of full business potential. Only then will be able to make decisions of funding and investment. For potential customers, they should address not only the unmet needs but also the current needs which probably the competition is addressing with their products.
Your product should address those needs as well as the unmet needs because that is the only thing that will convert them from the competition.
6. Prototype creation and Blueprinting
Blueprinting or Wireframing of product is creating well-defined steps of product navigation to show it to your potential customers or investors. Wireframing is essential for app development and digital products.
Every component of the app or the website can be another is with the help of wireframing, and you can change its color, size, location or any other thing that you need to change. Suggestions from investors can also be implemented immediately and the result can be seen. In the case of a physical product, a prototype of the product is to be developed for testing.
This testing can be carried out with select customers or investors. The critical step here is to collect the feedback after the use of the product or the service or experiencing the website or the digital product. The Feedback of first users is what will improve the product and change the product to enhance the acceptability in the market. It is important to use a diverse audience for the first usage.
The diverse audience will have various ideas and feedback which will not be monotonous because it will be thought from multiple angles and with the point of view of different people. If the product is to be launched globally, then having people from different countries as a test audience is a good idea.
If it is to be launched locally then people from different age groups, gender and ethnicity are to be included so that the product receives excellent feedback and can be used to strengthen the possible flaws of the product,