Does the development of really new products require a different approach from that of incremental new products? Current research and management practice seem to suggest that any successful new product development (NPD) process comprises a set of key activities, regardless of a product's innovativeness. It seems almost foolhardy to suggest that NPD could proceed without proficiency in all of the following tasks: strategic planning, idea development and screening, business and market opportunity analysis, technical development, product testing, and product commercialization. Suggesting that the difference may be in the details, X. Michael Song and Mitzi Montoya‐Weiss present the results of a study that examines the development of 163 really new products and 169 incremental new products. The study's objective is to compare the NPD processes and performance outcomes of really new and incremental products. In other words, the study examines the interplay between a product's innovativeness, the NPD process, and the product's performance in the marketplace. For the firms in the study, four sets of NPD activities—strategic planning, market analysis, technical development, and product commercialization—are key determinants of new product success for both really new products and incremental products. However, strategic planning and business and market opportunity analysis activities play contrasting roles for the two types of products. Working to improve proficiency in business and market opportunity analysis may be counterproductive for really new products, but it can increase the profitability of incremental products. Conversely, improving the proficiency of strategic planning activities has a positive effect on the profitability of the really new products, but it has a negative effect for the incremental products. Overall, the really new products in the study surpass the incremental products in meeting profit objectives. Comparing current practice to best practice, the firms in the study have room for improvement. For both really new and incremental products, the firms in the study do not place sufficient emphasis on product commercialization activities. The participants also need to reassess the relative emphasis they place on strategic planning activities. The projects involving really new products do not place sufficient emphasis on strategic planning, while the incremental projects exhibit a relatively high level of proficiency in this area—exactly the opposite of the order that this study recommends.
The Journal of Product Innovation Management – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1998
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