Designing a new product

If you’re already established as a business with products you’ve bought wholesale off the shelf, you could be thinking that now is the time to design and develop your own items to add to the range and begin a retail line which is unique to your company.

Bringing a product to market is a combination of research, definition, blueprint, development and testing. There are also the legal implications to consider of ensuring that no other business copies your idea.

The place to start is with research. This should be a combination of finding out if other similar or identical products are already available, competitors, who your ideal market sector is and if in fact there is a need for the product. A market and consumer research company can provide you with the necessary data, and once you analyze it and decide to take the next step, it’s then all about determining the true definition of what you want to develop.

Defining your product means looking in detail at the scope of the market that will actually buy or use the product. If you discover that you are only going to be targeting customers already on your database, it may be that the best option is to modify a product you already buy in, as developing a completely new design is going to waste time and money if it isn’t going to build your audience and customer base. Project scoping is the deciding factor in finding out how the next stages of the process of your design work should be to be carried out. This is one of the most important parts of product development as it creates a focused path to follow and without it could lead you and your team to weeks or months of fruitless work.

It’s at this point that you need to look at patenting your idea. This means ensuring that legally it is seen as your work in case another company copies your design either at the development stage or when you’ve launched and see other similar items then start to appear. A patent lawyer such as those at can advise and work with you to apply for and receive the patent you need to give you peace of mind.

The final area of development of a new product is the blueprint. Many engineers often see this as the first stage but until you know you have a market you can sell to, the creation of a blueprint is not time well spent. This is because the initial research will more than likely change elements of the product such as the material it is made from or the eventual size and so the final item – to a larger or smaller degree – won’t look the same as when you first set out. The blueprint will give the visual idea of the item you are looking to create either on paper or on the computer. After its creation it is then time to look to the final product development and its testing.

The prototype will be the end result of your planning work and the blueprint. This is where you will see for the first time your idea as a physical item. Once you have the prototype you can begin the product testing. This could mean presenting it to a potential audience of customers in a market research environment, creating copies and sending them out as samples or putting the item through tests for durability and whether they meet specific industry standards for health and safety. This could benefit the product development process greatly as it gives enough information to know whether the product will work in the market or needs changes. If the results of the market research require you to implement new ideas to the prototype, you might have to do that and then repeat the process.

The end result of prototype testing is the production and marketing of your new product and you’ll have the opportunity to see the idea which started as a seed of thought in your mind on the shelves and selling around the world. It’s hard work to bring a new product to market, but one which is worth it because you can proudly put your name to it and feel that you’ve added a unique element to the lives of those who buy from you.