Having arrived at a product idea it is necessary to establish some method of finding out whether it is worth pursuing. Bearing in mind the high cost of new product failure, it is apparent that some organized method of screening is essential.

One method is to gather views from various members of the company's management and opting for the majority opinion. Once again, the quality of this panel of judges will make or mar the value of the screening. Those taking part should, ideally, have an objective approach. But how many people in an organization are likely to have an objective attitude to a matter so closely affecting their own interests as a new product? Certainly not the Production Manager, upon whose plant it will be made; nor the Sales Manager, through whose distributors it will have to be sold. It is probably better to accept from the outset that subjective thinking will prevail and to recruit the screening panel in such a manner that a prejudiced view in one direction is likely to be cancelled out by an equally jaundiced opinion in the other!

A better approach, surely, is to examine each idea in relation to the resources which the company is able to provide. Consider, for example, the ability of the Research Department to develop the new product idea. How will this proposed product relate to existing research and development programmes? Will it make use of knowledge which already exists within the department? Can the development work which may be necessary for the new product be carried out on the present pilot plant? Are the right people available to undertake this development work? Do they know enough about the subject?

Similarly, one must question the extent of the company's market knowledge in relation to the new product. How will it fit into the company's present markets? In what ways will this new product affect-or be affected by-the company's image and reputation?

Next Step: The Use of Consumer Panels

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