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Copyright 2006
Cornell University.
All rights reserved.


Product Development Stages


Evaluation of the profit risk is the final step in product commercialization. Even if a product is optimized for commercialization, it is still not clear that it should be produced and marketed. Your choice of production method and estimated cost based on sales volume will help you test the market and evaluate the potential for your product's success.

Commercialization Matrix
Production Method Cost Volume Profit Risk
Custom High Few High risk
Mass production Low High Medium risk
Mass customization Medium Made to order Medium risk

In fact, we have come full circle back to analyzing customer needs, competition, and market environment.

At this stage, consumer research can evaluate the actual products you will offer.

Point-of-purchase surveys can provide information about the motivation behind a purchase (if the consumers fill them out).

Consumer panel research has been an effective method for commodities such as health care products and cleaning supplies. A panel of consumers is identified that represents the target market. This is often done within designated geographical areas to make it easier to communicate directly with the consumers. They are paid to try out products and discuss their reactions, often in small groups or by recording their patterns of use. The same consumer panel can be hired for a series of product evaluations to make this form of research easier to conduct. In addition, panel members will benefit from the experience they gain over time.

Testing the acceptance of design with customers is a step toward commercialization

Observation methods sometimes uncover even richer descriptive information about product use. Trained researchers develop systems to categorize the ways consumers actually use products. For example, observing the way certain age and interest groups wear baseball caps - bill forward, sideways, or backwards - might lead a company to redesign the cap to fit the head better in these new wearing positions, or place the images or logos in different locations.

Some consumer product companies actually send researchers into people's homes to follow them as they use their products.

Products are also evaluated alongside competitors' products to find out which ones consumers prefer and why. The superior aspects of your product can be used to develop attractive claims about your product that can be used in advertising and to develop marketing strategies.


1. What market and consumer environment conditions would cause you to decide against commercializing your apparel product?
2. Describe an observation study you could conduct to evaluate the commercialization of a warm sock design to be worn with sandals.




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