New product development is short of imagination

Jane Lewis’s feature Trying times (DW 2 July) outlined the cost in money and effort it takes to get a new product idea accepted for production.

My experience, after 30 years of involvement with new product development, is that many people in the manufacturing industry who’s job is to introduce new products, seem remarkably unimaginative. They rely heavily on what their competitors are doing or what has sold in the past for new product ideas.

It almost seems that knowledge of a competitor’s products acts as a kind of anaesthetic on that part of the brain which would normally stimulate them into finding out what people really want and what could sell in the future.

Indeed, a few “new product planners” I have met have been so remarkably unimaginative that I wonder how they managed to get jobs at all, let alone in their companies’ “new product planning” departments.

So, sadly, copying a competitor’s product, the “me too” attitude, still seems to be the preferred norm, an attitude currently demonstrated beautifully in one of Selfridges shop windows. Side by side with a Dyson upright cyclonic suction cleaner is an Electrolux complete with transparent dust chamber and “cyclonic action”. Electrolux was offered the original Dyson in the past, but had not the imagination to see its potential.

David Crisp

London E8

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