Product and Range Development: the base for growth
Business development is a lot more than selling what you currently have. Discover how to use product and range development to grow your business!
Business Development is usually linked to an array of professional activities linked to the selling a given product or service.
However, there is a lot more to it and today we will focus on another, less known, side of Business Development.
More precisely to the activity aimed at creating growth by developing either an existing product or a range of products. Product and Range Development.
We asked Lucia Arrigucci, from Arrigucci Of Sweden to explain what is it precisely, and how to make the best use of it.
Enjoy the reading!
Aim at creating self-selling products
We can define Product and Range Development as the multitude of tasks aimed at creating a new product or improving the existing one until it gets to the closest point when it could sell by itself.
We assume that a “product” is anything meeting a real or a perceived need – including a service.
Now, product and range development basically aims at creating a product that is self-selling. But to reach that point, you need to follow some best practices.
So, what does a product or a range of products need in order to sell itself?
Well, that’s precisely the key question that both drives and encompasses all tasks of a Product and Range Developer.
The reality is, in fact, rather brutal. One can work at the top level with marketing tools, packaging and PR; or even be endorsed by top influencers and get viral exposure.
But still, if the cat food is not tasty enough, cats will not eat it and people will not carry on buying it.
And this goes for any other product, whether material or immaterial.
If you are there to stay, start with product and range development
As simple as that. If you aim at staying in the market for the years to come, you have to make sure your products follow the latest trends.
The ice cream is one of the biggest food-related success stories of the recent decades. Their secret? It’s all in the pudding
In fact, it was the only ice cream with THAT amount of real chocolate in the coating which made it the one that tasted the best.
In the case of Paypal, their secret was to allow delay payments after the shipping to avoid horrid frauds as there was a desperate need for it!
Even tho, they are quite solid companies, over the years both Magnum and Pay Pal also had to develop their products and overall offer to keep striking the right cord.
Same for STRING, an iconic, classic, perfectly designed piece of furniture.
Originally offering as a regular shelf, they had to differentiate their range of products to bathroom, halls and even kitchen in order to keep selling.
So, if you are a company that wants to grow, the best investment you can possibly make is to assess your products and range.
And most importantly, keep everyone in the company updated on the milestones of this activity.
Remember, the aim is to have your products get as close as possible as to be able to sell themselves!
Now that we covered the basics, these are the steps to take when starting with product and range development!
Related article: The ultimate guide to product development.
Know everything about your product
First, you want to identify the core and additional values of your own product or range.
Moreover, you need to understand its commercial edge and its commerciality compared to other similar products in the market.
You want to know how the product positions itself compared to existing competing products in terms of style, function, usability, interface, selling channels, packaging, communications.
You want to know what other products offer that yours do not and why do they sell like crazy while yours, which are so similar, don’t come even close.
Once you have identified your product direct and indirect competitors, get familiar with them.
I like to create boards with their pictures and more clearly compare in a merciless and fact-based way.
Pro tip: Do not forget to spread your findings inside the company.
Personally, I like using this task as an exercise to become clearer and clearer when speaking about my products.
Because if you can explain your findings to someone not involved at all in the process, you reached the right level of simplicity and clarity.
Know your market
Second, create a picture of the overall market you want to penetrate, based on global and local specific trends. But also use, cultures, and consumers behaviors.
To give you an example, think about Starbucks. They will ultimately penetrate the Italian market.
However, it would have been naive of them not to consider the challenge of competing with hundreds of “Italian bars”.
It was crucial for them to deeply understand and adapt to the market, before making any move.
For this task, I love a mix of tools, from desktop search to using Euromonitor to personally visit places and have first hand experience.
Don’t leave anything to chance
Third, make sure to fulfill the the product primary and secondary functions. Look for bottlenecks or hidden faults and limits within the product itself that could prevent success.
Ask yourself: how can my product be better?
To give you a more practical view, these are some examples from my own previous developments.
Working on some IKEA products, we added a rail around an extraction hood to store spices jars.
On another project, we added measurement grids in the plastic mould of food containers in order to know how much content (e.g. flour) you have or you use.
Last, we developed a low-tech hinge for an extendable table as the hydraulic solution currently used by competitors is a cost driver.
The bottom line is: think about ways to the final user something extra at more or less the same production cost or even less than your competitors.
Once you checked all these boxes, do a final review on how the product is communicated externally so you can implement a multi-channel strategy to sell the product.
Get everyone on board
A key factor to success – but sadly, often neglected – is to ensure everyone in the company knows everything about the product and/or offer.
Because actually, each and everyone working in a company plus their relatives and friends should be the natural spokespersons of what you sell.
Before going out and conquer the market, make sure the team is aware and aligned about the product.
There is nothing sillier and more de-motivating than getting to know about the products of your company through third parties or reading an ad on a magazine.
Such dissecting of the product or offer should be peppered with decisions points.
A good idea to do this is to organize workshops involving different stakeholders in the company to create awareness and draw feedback from anyone, really.
Pro tip: the best ideas come from the most unexpected sides.
Products behave like people
The last point to consider is this one: like humans, also products give better results when working together.
Hardly ever a company reaches success without a proper range or with a product going solo. That’s when Range strategy comes in.
It basically makes sure that “the eggs are spread” and the company success is taken care of by a “team of products”.
Each of those with their own task: some to mainly bring volumes, some to mainly bring margins, some to mainly bring visibility or profile and some a mix.
When it comes to range strategy there are different things to take into account.
Price strategy and analysis of the margin within the range; how to increase the margin keeping the quality at the same level.
How to increase the volumes and how this impact production and suppliers.
However, the ultimate goal is always the same: creating a range that could almost sell itself!
Get feedback into the company
Just think of the potential of selling something you and everyone else know everything about. Its pros and cons compared to competitors, what it does and don’t, when it will be improved and how.
It’s key to bring back to your company all relevant input and feedback from customers and end users.
In this way, you will have a snapshot of a natural virtuous circle within Business Development Throughout Product and Range Development.
By now you all must have understood the bottom line of my approach: when aiming for growth, always start from the product range.
Ask yourself a straightforward question: could my product sell themselves? If not, what do they miss?
Lucia Arrigucci is a Business Developer with 20 years’ experience within Product and Range development.
Her portfolio includes developing, bringing to the market and managing both consumer goods and industrial processes.
LuciA’s specialties include complex cross-disciplinary projects and operations, multi-material product development, technology based consumer goods, industrial production of unique products and growth through high margins.
Globe Trotter, Deal maker, Humanist, serial cat lover, LuciA is presently based in Malmö, Sweden working with Innovation, Growth and Sustainability from her own company, Arrigucci Of Sweden.
Feel free to reach out to her should you find yourself in need of growing your company through Product and Range Development.
Are you also busy with product and range development? What are your best practices?
Continue reading: Top 10 books for business development.
Co-Founder at Arrigucci of Sweden AB
What drives me the most is to find win-win solutions at every single deal. My job is to lead the development of solutions and products that makes sustainability the new normal.
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