Screening product ideas is, essentially, an evaluation process. It occurs at every stage of the new product development process and involves such questions as:
- Do we have the necessary commercial knowledge and experience?
- Do we have the technical know-how to develop the idea further?
- Would such a product be suitable for our business?
- Are we sure there will be sufficient demand?
To help with this activity, firms often turn to product lead users and product experts. The main purpose of screening ideas is to select those that will be successful and drop those that will not.
Distinguishing between dreams and reality
Recognising what is a possible product and what is fantasy is an important part of the screening process. Market research can provide valuable market analysis input at this stage to help in the decision process.
Initial screen, entry screen or preliminary screen
This represents the first formal evaluation of the idea. Each of the ideas that came from the pool of concepts has to be given an initial screen. This will involve a technical feasibility check and marketing feasibility test, plus a comparison with the strategic opportunity. This would include evaluating if the particular product would fit the business’s existing activities. The advantage of early screening is that it can be done quickly and easily and prevents expenditure on product ideas that clearly are not appropriate.
Customer screen, concept testing
This can vary between informal discussions and feedback on developed prototypes. Concept testing is extremely difficult and mistakes are very easy to make. People have difficulty reacting to an entirely new product concept without a learning period.
Technical screen, technical testing
This activity can vary from a few telephone calls to technical experts to extensive analysis by an in-house R&D department or an analysis by a third party, such as an independent consultant.
This often involves the use of scoring models and computer assessment programs. Various new product ideas are fed into the program and a series of questions and assessments, with different weightings, are made, resulting in a scoring for each.
This may involve the construction of preliminary marketing plans, technical plans, financial reviews and projected budgets. All of these may raise potential problems that previously were unforeseen. It is nor uncommon for new products to reach the mass-production stage only to encounter significant manufacturing difficulties, often when production is switched from one-off prototypes to high volume manufacture.
New technology product blogs
Lead users and early adopters are often blogging or reading and commenting on blogs. Blogs create a virtual “community” of bloggers and readers. New product development managers can glean a great deal of information about what these audiences are thinking. NPD managers can be immersed in these communities. Immersion enhances the potential of close relationships, sharing experiences and co-creating value with blogging communities through innovation.
Trott, P., 2008. Innovation management and new product development. Pearson education.