Predevelopment Activities Determine New Product Success

Predevelopment Activities Determine New Product Success


Robert G. Cooper


Predevelopment Activities Determine New Product Success

Robert G. Cooper. 1988. (View Paper → )

This article focuses on the predevelopment activities of the product innovation process: those often ignored steps that precede the actual development of the product.

First, we look at the mounting evidence that identifies gaps in how many industrial firms handle the predevelopment steps. The evidence also reveals that new product success and failure is often decided before the new product project even enters the product development phase.

Second, we discuss ways that managers can, should, and have improved the effectiveness of these early and crucial stages of the innovation process.

The paper's reference to early "pre-development" activities can be seen as a precursor to what we now refer to as "product discovery" techniques. Product discovery has evolved significantly over time, transforming from fairly simple market research and concept definition to a robust and multidimensional process. Today, it involves rigorous user research, data analysis, iterative testing, and validation.

Key insights from the paper:

  • Predevelopment activities critically influence new product success.
  • Most product failures can be traced back to inadequate predevelopment steps.
  • Essential predevelopment activities include market analysis, product concept definition, and project evaluation.
  • Market research and understanding customer needs are foundational for product success.
  • A strong market orientation and a superior product concept are key success factors.
  • Early project evaluation should assess technological feasibility and market potential.
  • Successful new products often exhibit a high performance-to-cost ratio and strong launch support.
  • Effective predevelopment involves idea generation, preliminary assessment, and detailed concept definition.
  • Financial considerations and resource allocation in early stages are linked to product success.
  • Systematic predevelopment processes, including rigorous screening and market assessment, improve product outcomes.