November 21, 2005
- by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II(The Second Beginning) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A question that usually comes up when I give my talk on the "10 Major Activities of Highly Successful Companies" deals with Products Research and how it differs from other activities within the Ten. Let me see if I can explain the operation of a Products Research Department based on my 39 years of training at Procter & Gamble.
From my experience, the Products Research Department is the focal point at which consumer, technology and marketing are brought together. This intersection is critical to the effective development of improved and new products. Products Research activities focus on understanding the consumer, concept development, product development, and packaging.
Our basic tenet at P&G was that fulfilling consumer needs is good business. Brands enjoy their greatest success if they are fundamentally matched with the needs, wants, and desires of the consumer. It is the job of Products Research to ferret out the consumer needs and assure that technically the solution to the need is possible. This requires a vision of technology and the consumer both today and tomorrow. Not only do we need to know what the consumer needs today but will the needs be different in the future? Are there emerging habits? Are there changes in household equipment? Are there attitude changes such as health and nutrition concerns? Are there or will there be governmental restrictions relating to our business and brands? The list goes on. It means that there is a constant need to keep your hand on the pulse of change.
Usually more opportunities are uncovered than can be pursued. This means Products Research must have the resources available to ferret out the most promising. It is important to evaluate and prioritize the opportunities.
An important note: ideas that are less promising at this time should not be discarded. They should be documented and saved. I have seen too many ideas successfully emerge in the market ten and fifteen years later (actually a couple over 25 years later). Don't risk wasting a good idea. Its time may come later.
In developing a product, the technical performance necessary to deliver on the promise must be well defined. The old adage of a business plan must be followed even for a product, that is, you have the Objective of the product, the Goals required to meet the Objective, the Strategy (how it does it) to meet the Goal, and finally the Measures (how you measure the degree of product performance success).
The Package Development is not limited to the creation of the container designed to hold the brand. Packaging is one of the most ignored attributes of a brand. Space in this Views is too limited to outline the basics of packaging research. For more detailed information read my Views on the "Ten Personalities of a Package."
The Products Research Department work with the brand should continue as long as the brand is on the market. They are responsible for brand maintenance, quality control, up-grades, and documentation to name a few.
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