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New product launches are traditionally marketing’s mechanism for driving incremental growth. In the “good old days,” innovations nearly always guaranteed growth for companies. There are always famous exceptions to the rule, including Edsel, New Coke and Sony’s Betamax.

Today’s Marketers find themselves in a hyper-competitive landscape. Sometimes the product is NEW, other times it’s IMPROVED. Either way, it must meet a need, fill a niche and show a profit.

The speed with which competitors can replicate product innovations leads to compressed product timelines. Combined, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have nearly 1000 different global brands. With this comes consumer confusion and ultimately declining returns on new product investments.

How can you boost the impact of New Product Development (NPD) without getting lost in the shuffle?

To produce an innovative and successful product, concentrate on insight generation and needs fulfillment. Marketers from across a diverse cross-section of industries identify innovation opportunities and use customer insights to break free from pure product-superiority competition.

LEGO hardwires customer needs into its NPD

When LEGO identified a downturn in sales, partially due to a lack of innovation in its product range, it set out to develop and launch a new version of its Mindstorms™ robot kit. To develop a truly innovative product and build strong word-of-mouth around the release, LEGO’s marketing had to rethink the way it involved consumers in the NPD process.

LEGO brought consumers in not only at the front end of their NPD process, but encouraged them to stay during all phases. A radical break from tradition, this new way of thinking provides valuable insight and open-ended input.

LEGO brought consumers in not only at the front end of their NPD process, but encouraged them to stay during all phases. A radical break from tradition, this new way of thinking provides valuable insight and open-ended input.

The LEGO Process
→ Identification of Opportunity
→ Strategic Analysis
→ Product Design and Development
→ Beta Testing
→ Market Release
→ Product Adoption

By revamping the rules of consumer engagement in its NPD process, LEGO developed an award-winning product, outselling its predecessor twofold. Within two weeks of its public launch, Mindstorms had 432,000 consumer-generated online references.

Ultimately, Marketing must determine how to drive growth through customer insight. Leading organizations like LEGO reinvigorate their companies’ innovation pipelines and profit from their innovations by differentiating its products from its competition. By using customer needs to steer the NPD pipeline, product launches can realize maximum returns through an integrated process.

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