Once preliminary surveys have shown that your product idea or service innovation is useful, new, eligible for production and has the potential for a retail product in terms of its marketability, the product development phase begins.
Product development transforms a product idea into a saleable product with features, a visual scheme and brand. This product package can be an entirely new item (such as a quark ice cream bar), a product provided as a service (such as aerobics classes where you roller skate to salsa music) or a combination of goods and services (such as a software product that is installed and customised for each individual customer).
In the productisation process, an idea is polished into an end product that is as competitive as possible when moving on to the commercialisation phase: convenient, pleasant in appearance, useful, efficient, durable, easy to use and affordable in terms of its production costs.
A product package can include goods or services
In the productisation of goods, it is key to find the best solutions for the production properties of the item or product: the production methods, raw materials, use features, design, packaging, etc. The development of a product usually begins with the creation of a prototype in order to test and assess production details. The possibilities of the preliminary product can also be tested through Proof of Concept testing, which determines the idea’s actual functionality and eligibility for implementation.
At this stage of product development, optimising the manufacturing methods and product features may require considerable investments. As the product will not generate sales profits at this point, beginning businesses must plan and secure consistent financing for the long term. However, public financing and support are available for the pilot phase of the product development, which aim to cultivate opportunities for innovation among Finnish SMEs.
The development of a service product is about the productisation of its service concept: service promise, profile purpose of use, service content and model (i.e. the process of providing the service), training the customer service personnel, additional materials, agreements, etc. An essential challenge in the productisation of services is how to turn an expert service that is provided in a new and unique way into a reproducible and saleable product package that can be provided by a variety of experts.
As is the case with goods, it is important to find a name for the service package that separates it from its competitors. The product’s name, trademark and brand built for the product and the image forged around it are equally important in the commercialisation of a product – sale, distribution and marketing – as the product’s actual features.
Determining intellectual property rights in product development
Intellectual property rights pertain to the terms on which private individuals or companies can have ownership of the results of ideas generated through creative efforts, i.e. intellectual property. With industrial rights, a company can protect the results of its product development by obtaining exclusive rights to the invention, item, visual appearance of a product or part thereof, or the product’s name or symbol.
The competitive possibilities of a product under development can be improved by applying for a patent – competitors cannot manufacture an invention protected with a patent for retail purposes. However, patents are not granted for just any products. Therefore, companies must look into various methods of protecting the results of their product development and select those that best support the goals of the development.
The product development must also ensure that the product being developed does not infringe upon the rights of another. When planning the name, symbol or visual appearance of a product, make sure that they are available for use.
By determining the obstacles related to intellectual property rights and checking your product’s eligibility for protection, you can ensure that the investments in product development do not go to waste.