The development stage of the product life cycle is the most crucial time for a product. The entire product life cycle depends heavily on a successful product, which is not exactly an easy task.  

Kevin Systrom — the co-founder of Instagram said:

“Great products sell themselves”

The first question that comes to mind is how do you build a great product? Building a great product is as simple as asking the right questions to the right people and bringing them the right answer. You have a great idea; all you need to do is find out what the customer wants and bring them the perfect solution.

In this article, we will discuss the development stage of the product life cycle, what happens in it, and how you can develop a product that sells itself.

What is the Development Stage of the Product Life Cycle?

The development stage is the very first stage in the product life cycle. This stage is when the product is not only developed, but goes through research, testing, and validation.

A graph showing the different product life cycles. Development stage is the very first stage in this cycle and includes creation, innovation, enhancement and improvement to your product.

As the American inventor — Charles F. Kettering said:

“We should all be concerned about the future because that’s where we’ll have to spend the rest of our lives.”

The development stage is about the future. You research the possibilities and make decisions based on your research. It's also the most expensive stage. Since the product is under development, you're not yet generating revenue, while still investing in R&D and marketing.

Length of the Development Stage

The length of the development stage of the product life cycle depends on the following factors:

  • Product complexity
  • Customer needs
  • Market competitiveness
  • Product uniqueness

If your product is a long-awaited solution like a cancer cure, then it will require no marketing efforts and will have massive support. However, an alternative to paper cups will require a lot of market development. Additionally, the development stage of a new product is harder because a new product is usually not as successful as its iterations.

What is the Product Life Cycle and Its Five Stages?

The product life cycle (PLC) is the length of time during which a product is developed and introduced until it is removed from the market. The concept was introduced by a German economist — Theodore Levitt in his article “exploit the product life cycle”. (2) currently, the product life cycle is used by marketers and business owners to make operational decisions.

The product life cycle usually involves five stages:

  1. The development stage is when the product is going through the research phase before it enters the market.
  2. The introduction stage is when the product is first launched into the marketplace and the marketing team is reaching the target audience and spreading awareness.
  3. The growth stage is when the product has made its place in the marketplace and there is steady growth.
  4. The maturity stage of a product is when it has reached its peak and stabilized.
  5. Product decline is when a product loses customer interest and its sales start declining.

How to Get Started with Product Development?

Throughout the development stage, it’s important to analyze everything and plan for potential outcomes.

There are always risks involved in product development and the best way to deal with them is by being proactive. Here are a few things to consider during the product development stage of the product life cycle:

  1. Does the product meet the expectations of the potential customer?
  2. Do you have adequate resources to design and develop the product?
  3. The business plan or strategy. (1)

What Happens During the Development Stage of the Product Life Cycle?

When it comes to creating the best product, there is so much that you need to get right. A good idea with misguided marketing can be a fiasco and bringing the right product to the wrong audience can bear equally devastating results. Before a product hits the market, tons of research and development efforts go into that journey.

The development stage starts with an idea upon which your product is built. What makes this stage unique is that it's not entirely about creating a product but exploring the possibilities. You're not focused on marketing or sales but work on other different aspects such as research, prototype development, testing, pricing, and strategizing the launch. Here are a few things that happen during the development stage of most products.

Conduct Market Research

Before creating a product prototype, it's vital to conduct adequate market research. That will help you refine the idea and test the product before it reaches the marketplace. An important part of product development is concept testing. It involves measuring market demand for a product and refining its features via customer feedback. That way, our company can go to market with confidence.

Run a Competitive Analysis

Running a business is not just about improving, but rather being better than the competition. For this reason, running a competitive analysis during the development stage is vital in launching a successful product. A competitive analysis is a process of identifying and evaluating your competitors based on a given criterion. Running a good competitive analysis can help your company identify gaps and potential growth opportunities in the market.

Test the Product on Real Consumers

Once the product is ready, it’s important to test the concept on real customers and gather feedback. Conduct interviews and create prototypes to gather feedback from potential (and existing) consumers. The feedback can help you understand the issues with the current product and develop a product that meets the user's expectations.

Protect Your Intellectual Property Rights

You also need to work towards protecting your intellectual property rights. Before launching your product, get it patented and trademarked to stop competitors from copying it and bringing an alternative to the market.

Bring in the Investors  

Due to the high costs incurred while developing a new product, many companies seek investors during this stage. To both investors and customers, you need to show them something like a brief sketch of the product or a prototype. All you need is to show them that your product is viable and has market potential. Validating your marketing potential can be really helpful in raising funds during this stage.

The end product of the development stage is the minimum viable product (MVP). It’s a product that is not yet perfect but has enough features to attract early customers and validate the product’s market potential.

Development Stage Marketing Strategy

Product marketing generally begins in the introduction stage. However, companies can create a buzz around the product while it's still in the development stage. Now, the marketing goal should be to build brand awareness and establish your presence as an innovative company in the market.

A couple of great ways to generate buzz around your product are:

  • Securing the endorsement of the established and renowned voices in the industry.
  • Publish consumer research and testimonials by early consumers.

How to Successfully Develop a Product?

From refining, the concept to designing the launch, developing a product successfully is a long journey. In this journey, you can learn through trial and error or get expert help and guidance from Starlight Analytics. With services like Concept Testing and Social Listening, you can confidently take your product to the market. Concept Testing and Social Listening help you gain insights from real customers, apply them to your product and develop a successful product in no time.