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The 5 minute guide to successful new products and positionings
(our most requested article)

by Barry Feig

New product development and brand positioning doesn't have to be a slow tedious process like in most companies. It should be exciting and vibrant as you search for new ways to develop business opportunities and new strategies to open up the consumer's skeptical heart.

One of the reasons the process takes so long and is fraught with failure is that companies come up with a product they can make and try to sell it to someone. That's backwards.

The best way is to find what people want to buy and then make it for them.
There are many situations where a company needs to develop new products to keep machinery moving or to rid a company of surplus products. Perhaps you ant to develop a flanking brand or enter a new category. These can -- and should be -- consumer driven too.

Whatever the reason for your new product hunt, your job is to create something that people want to buy. Here's how to do it. Quickly and efficiently.

Create a an inventory of hypothetical product ideas and putative product positionings. This is not that hard, even for left brained people. As a marketer -- especially if you're a new products marketer -- you think of ideas all the time. Your mind is always on overdrive. Just allow your mind to relax and keep a note pad with you. You can even set up a brainstorming session with your people.

The strongest ideas -- a judgment call at first -- should be developed into actual full color ads. (Don't go to your advertising agency for this -- they never do it right and it's too can e-mail me to do it...hint hint.) You now have the backbone of your new product development plan in place. Pretty quick, isn't it?

Take these out to a local mall that has a consumer research facility. Have the staff buttonhole consumers and show them the concepts. Never allow respondents to read the concepts -- a great many people are embarrassed over their reading ability and many won't be able to comprehend the message.

Instead, read them aloud as you show your concepts. Watch for your respondent's reactions. I'm not going to denigrate your intelligence by furnishing you with questions to ask. Your naturally marketing savvy should take care of that. The main purpose of the mall intercepts is to get red flags about your concepts so you can change them accordingly.

Once you've made your changes, take your ads out to interactive groups (focus groups) in whatever market you're selling in. Yes, I know, I often say that focus groups are the most misused research tool in marketing today and I'm not going to take that back. But your goal is going to be different than in most groups. You're not going to ask consumers what they want. You're going to show them what you can make. You're going to make your respondents react to your concepts. Each group should be a microcosm of the shopping experience.

After these groups, lick your wounds and modify your concepts. Throw out the bombs. Modify the ones that received lukewarm interest. Add new concepts based entirely on the reactions from he first group.

Then show them to new groups of consumers in a different area of the country (wherever you hope to sell your product).

Revise the inventory.

Show the revised concepts again. If your concepts were good you'll have a winner.


Here's how the whole workflow process for a typical (and almost always successful) new product works. Note that everything can be condensed into a much more concentrated time frame depending on your needs and goals.


Initial concept development and ideation. One-on-one interviews, two focus groups. OBJECTIVE: Identify broadscale areas that have potential.

Week 1: Start-up meeting, business recap, ideation

Week 2 : Creative review.

Week 3: Advertising concepts completed.


One-on-one interviews to eliminate red flags and get a preliminary reading of market and assessment of concepts.

After consumer reaction, refine concepts.


Week 5: Review findings;

Begin refinement of probes in selected opportunity area; delete and add to inventory. Discuss areas to pursue, areas to stay away from.


OBJECTIVE: Identify broadscale areas that have potential. Expand on areas that have merit. Further define areas of opportunity.

Week 6: Review of new and revised probes.



Review all concepts that received negative reaction as well as positive reaction. Work with R & D to fulfill successful products/concepts.

Week 9: Modify concepts, add to inventory if needed.


OBJECTIVE: Continue evolutionary process, identify hot and cold areas. Zero in on strongest concepts.


Optimization of strongest concepts. Consumers can compare tangible aspects of products, packaging and positioning for concept fulfillment.


OBJECTIVE: Verify and optimize all products/positionings, names, products, communications impact and key sensory performance characteristics. Fine tune all work to answer any questions concerning products strengths and positioning, the specific consumer hot buttons and target market. Optimize concepts and purchase triggers. Develop broad scale user profiles and define strength of market.


The results? You're Ready to execute the strategy and product or place the products and concepts into quantitative tests. You now have products, positioning, key product benefits,consumer purchase stimuli needed, target market definition, key communications.

And five minutes is all this article took you to read.

Mr. Feig is president-creative director of New Products Workshop Inc.This article is one of several that was published in Food & Beverage Marketing, Frozen Food Age, America On-Line and Business-Know- How

For More Information Contact:
Barry Feig:
Telephone 800-707-0739
Santa Fe, NM 8750