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New Product Prototypes

Successfully creating a real-life product that mirrors your new product concept and meets your company's cost parameters is difficult. It takes months and years, even for smaller companies to accomplish.

Many low- and high-tech products lend themselves to measurable quantitative instrument testing to see how well the product really works and to "benchmarking" against current competitor's products already in the marketplace. Even informal taste-tests of prototype products in food businesses can be done in-house prior to real consumer exposure.

Stirring the magic kettle of product development requires dedication, commitment, and often courage to find ways to meet the promises of a good concept. What's more, you may find that your requirements for the new product change as you move along.


Folger's Coffee spent years, a small fortune, and three tries at bringing out a freeze-dried coffee that "tasted, smelled, and looked like fresh-brewed coffee." Each time, consumers voted thumbs down, saying, "It just doesn't taste enough like fresh-brewed coffee."

Finally, the third (and last) product development project and market testing was completed with improved, state-of-the-art, freeze-dried coffee crystals that looked and tasted like fresh-brewed coffee, and even real coffee aroma captured in the jar. It was discovered that the key target consumer group, freeze-dried coffee users, were accustomed to their instant coffee and really didn't know or like actual fresh-brewed coffee!

Preliminary checklist for product prototype development. Key target consumers or buyers can validate that product features and benefits in your prototype conform to the original concept and meet the customer's needs as well. You'll need to be sure that:

  • Packaging, pricing, and brand positioning meet the accepted concept targets.
  • Manufacturing, sales, and distribution are achievable and manageable with your company's resources.
  • Your company has at least the minimum resources needed to successfully introduce the new product into the competitive environment and targeted market segment.
  • New product features and benefits can be accurately communicated to the target buyer group.
  • Your company can enjoy new product exclusivity long enough to recoup development investment and achieve company growth, sales, and profit objectives for the new product.

When testing new products, don't forget to test packaging, pricing, and advertising.

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