Generation Techniques in New Product Development
The process of new product development begins with identification of good product ideas and the use of an appropriate criterion to determine ideas to pursue. This process involves concept generation, which is the most important step since it involves generating and/or obtaining ideas regarding the product. Concept generation in new product development entails developing a set of customer needs, specifying targets, and determining several product alternatives for the design process. Given the significance of concept generation in new product development, there are several concept generation techniques. These techniques can be utilized to create variations of the basic concept in relation to different product form, characteristics, positioning, benefits, and customer target.
Overview of Concept Generation
According to Nobel (2013), concept generation is the process through which product development team creates or obtains ideas relating to the various aspects of a product such as product form and characteristics, customer target, positioning, and customer target. This process commences with a set of customer needs and target specifications, which help generate a series of product concept designs from which a final product form or design will be selected. In light of this description, concept generation in new product development entails ideation and concept screening. Ideation involves clarifying the problem, looking for solutions internally and externally, exploring the solutions systematically, and developing several solutions. On the other hand, concept screening involves examining these solutions relative to their suitability and identifying and refining the most appropriate solution.
There are various concept generation techniques in new product development because of variations in customers’ needs and desires. The development of these varying techniques for idea generation was geared towards ensuring every individual could engage in developing new product ideas. In essence, concept generation techniques enable people to share and develop existing solutions through predicting future problems, identifying future needs, and creating better product designs. While numerous concept generation techniques exist, no single technique is the best. Therefore, product developers or new product development teams should familiarize themselves with the existing techniques and utilize them individually or in combination with others as necessary (“Concept Generation,” 2003).
Sample Product Concepts
The first example of a new product concept is a new fruit salad topping that will be utilized on desserts like ice-cream. The fruit salad will contain low calories, real fruit pieces, and no flavors or synthetic colors. Therefore, it will be suitable for use on ice-creams, breakfast cereals, pancakes, and bread. This product has been developed because fruits are renowned for being healthy food choices in any balanced diet. Given the emergence of lifestyles diseases in the recent past, customers have increasingly become nutrition-conscious and are looking for healthy food choices. A natural, low-calorie fruit salad will meet customers’ needs for a healthy food choice and will be suitable for all age groups. Therefore, the product will be targeted to all age groups and will be marketed as a nutritious food choice that promotes healthy living.
The second example is pork inspired by Scandinavian spices and roots and traditionally processed. This product will be sold in selected retail stores packaged at 500g. This product concept emerges from the desire to provide traditionally processed food items that reflect freshness and simplicity while promoting healthy living. This food product will meet customers’ desire for traditionally processed pork products and will be targeted to customers who want to experience the real taste of Scandinavia. The product will be positioned in the market as a fresh and affordable premium pork product with a Scandinavian taste.
The third example is decorative artwork that will improve the appearance of glass shower stalls and doors in current homes. The artwork will be created in a manner that creates a synchronized cabinet look across the home. The target market for this product comprises homeowners who individually want to enhance their homes. Since the product is based on a do-it-yourself approach, it will be easy to use and install without incurring renovation costs.
Utilized Concept Generation Technique
For the first concept, the developer utilized brainstorming, which involves explaining the problem and identifying the most suitable solution. In this case, health was identified as the main problem facing many people in today’s society. The product development team determined that this problem can be addressed through developing healthy foods. During discussions, several ideas were generated, especially for food items that can be combined with desserts or baked items. Each of the proposed ideas was critically examined before a suitable product to address the problem was identified. The second concept was developed though collaboration, which is a concept generation technique in which two or more individuals work together to achieve a common goal. For this product, two groups collaborated to develop a food product that reflects the true taste of Scandinavia. The product development teams worked to co-create the product through the entire development process. The third product concept was generated through the use of brainsketching, which is a concept generation technique that involves silently sketching product ideas on a sheet of paper (Linsey et al., 2011, p.031008-2). In this case, the developer worked with a product development team in which every member provided sketches and/or drawings of decorative artworks that can enhance the appearance of glass shower doors in existing homes. These members provided their sketches and explained the ideas. This was followed by comparisons of all the sketches before a suitable one was refined and selected.
In conclusion, concept generation is an important process in new product development since it deals with idea creation for the new products. This process is crucial in new product development because the kind of ideas generated determines the kind of product to be created. There are several concept generation techniques that can be utilized in this process including brainstorming, brainsketching, and collaboration. Since there is no single method that is appropriate for every scenario, different concept generation techniques can be utilized to develop new products.
“Concept Generation.” (2003, March 5). Lecture 13. Retrieved from University of Iowa website: http://user.engineering.uiowa.edu/~bme083/lecture/lecture13_030503.pdf
Linsey et al. (2011, March). An Experimental Study of Group Idea Generation Techniques: Understanding the Roles of Idea Representation and Viewing Methods. Journal of Mechanical Design, 133, 031008-1-031008-15.
Nobel, M. (2013). Product Concept Generation. Retrieved from Tufts University website: http://sites.tufts.edu/eeseniordesignhandbook/2013/product-concept-generation/
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