The term new product can mean different things. Six different categories of new products can be identified that are all quite different from each other. Still, they are all called new products. Let’s investigate the different categories of new products and what the term new product may actually mean.
The six categories of new products range from new-to-the-world products (sometimes called really new products), as well as a range of minor repositionings and cost reductions. The list containing the six categories of new products may include things you would exclude. For instance, can we have a new item just by repositioning an old one (telling customer it is something else)? Yes, we can have a new product then. You might consider this to be only a new use, but the firm still went through a process of discovery and development. And a new use may occur in a completely separate division. For example, the Dove soap name has, by now, been extended to almost two dozen box soaps and almost as many liquid body washes.
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The Six Categories of New Products
As you see, we have to broaden our definition of new products to include the following six categories of new products.
1. New-to-the-world Products (really new Products)
The alternative expression for new-to-the-world products (really new products) already indicates that this is what most people would define as a new product. These products are inventions that create a whole new market. Examples: Polaroid camera, the iPod and iPad, the laser printer and so on.
2. New-to-the-firm Products (new Product Lines)
Products that take a firm into a category new to it. The products are not new to the world, but are new to the firm. The new product line raises the issue of the imitation product: a “me-too”. Examples: P&G’s first shampoo or coffee, Hallmark gift items, AT&T’s Universal credit card and so on.
3. Additions to existing Product Lines
These are simple line extensions, designed to flesh out the product line as offered to the firm’s current markets. Examples: P&G’s Tide Liquid detergent, Bud Light, Special K line extensions (drinks, snack bars, and cereals).
4. Improvements and Revisions to existing Products
Current products made better. Examples: P&G’s Ivory Soap and Tide power laundry detergent have been revised numerous times throughout their history, and there are countless other examples.
As we already discussed before, you may have an argument about whether repositions are actually new products. Yet, they can be considered as new products, as the firm undertakes a new products process. Repositionings are products that are retargeted for a new use or application. Examples: Arm & Hammer baking soda repositioned as a drain or refrigerator deodorant; aspirin repositioned as a safeguard against heart attacks. Also includes products retargeted to new users or new target markets. Marlboro cigarettes were repositioned from a woman’s cigarette to a man’s cigarette years ago.
6. Cost Reductions
Finally, cost reductions complete the six categories of new products. Cost reductions refer to new products that simply replace existing products in the line, providing the customer similar performance but at a lower cost. May be more of a “new product” in terms of design or production than marketing.
Differences between the Categories of New Products
All the categories of new products are considered new products, but it is clear to see that the risks and uncertainties greatly differ, and the categories need to be managed differently.
In general, if a product is new to the world or new to the firm (the first two categories of new products), the risks and uncertainties faced by the firm are higher, as are the associated costs of development and launch. For instance, it costs Gillette far more to launch its newest shaving system (the Fusion Flexball for example) than to do upgrades to the earlier Mach 3 system (such as developing the women’s version, named Venus, which used the same blade technology).
A greater commitment of human and financial resources is clearly often required to bring the most innovative new products to market successfully.