Brian Palmer, Chief Executive of Tharsus shares his knowledge in bringing new products to market. Brian Palmer is an expert in design and innovation having gained a wealth of experience running Tharsus, an engineering and manufacturing firm with three sites in the North East.
Tharsus has recently completely re-engineered itself to become a ‘virtual’ engineering and manufacturing arm for clients taking innovative new products to market.
How do you decide if your idea is worth taking to market?
Clearly define and then be prepared and able to demonstrate your product’s unique selling propositions (USP’s).
Your product has to be the solution to an existing problem; it must fill a gap in the market. Otherwise you are recreating a product that already exists and therefore there is no point moving forward. You also need to be sure you can finance the journey to market.
What is Intellectual Property and how do you obtain it?
Intellectual Property allows people to have ownership of the ideas they create. There are four main types of intellectual property; patents, design rights, copyrights and trademarks.
Having a patent on a product design is most important as this covers the ‘inventive step’ in how the product works, such as its mechanism, the technology, or even the chemistry.
Gaining an intellectual property status on your product idea can be costly and time consuming so you must be sure that you stand to make more money in the market than the cost of gaining IP before going ahead with the application process.
How do I conduct market research?
Market knowledge does not mean talking to family and friends, it means taking real comment and feedback and analysing it critically. There are a lot of good products that people will be complimentary about but they will not buy.
Talk to potential customers and be very realistic – do not hear what you want to hear, make sure you understand who the final decision maker is and what will drive them to buy your product.
We have seen technically superior products that have failed to make it due to existing market loyalties, where a desire to maintain the status quo works in favour of the main players.
So be very thorough when it comes to answering the following questions: will it really sell, what is the product’s true price point, have you set achievable volumes and acceptable order fulfilment lead-times, is there a level of seasonality to demand, and are there regional market variations?
What are the main points to consider prior to launching a product to market?
Do not simply focus on your core business and product strengths, other aspects to consider should include: engineering, directives, legislation, manufacturing, packaging, supply chain, distribution, finance, literature, etc.
It is very easy to underestimate one or two of these areas, especially the ones which are outside of your experience, so seek outside help from those who are more experienced than you.
How long should I expect the product launch to take?
Every project is different, dependent on what the product is, what the manufacturing process will entail and the market it is entering.
Understanding true lead-times and the legislative procedure your product will need to go through will give you a realistic time frame, pull together a resource activity plan and time line that maps out how you will get from where you are today to market.
I have not come across a single customer who has managed to achieve volume sales of a new product ahead of their target date, and our customers include start ups through to multinational corporations, so you must have contingency for the unforeseen built in to the plan from day one.