SOME PRODUCT ASSESSMENT-RELATED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. My product is already in the marketplace. Why should I get an assessment?
This is one of the questions we are asked most frequently. After all, once a product reaches the marketplace, isn't the need for evaluation or assessment over? The question sounds logical, but the need for assessment, and even reassessment, occurs throughout the product life cycle, even at the end. There are a couple of important factors here.
First, the bulk of smaller enterprises don't conduct formal evaluations during the idea generation or research and development phases of the innovation process. In contrast, the vast majority of large corporations do. It is not unusual for issues that should have been resolved during the research & development phases to surface and cause great problems well after a product has been introduced into the market. Generally speaking, the further a product has penetrated the market, the more expensive it is to correct problems. Product recalls are no fun.
Second, just because a product has been successfully marketed, doesn't mean it is ready for the big leagues. Sophisticated buying organizations, which include most national level buyers, typically have much higher expectations than smaller local or regional buying groups. In addition, their requirements are different. For example, packaging requirements are frequently simple and limited to protection issues with electronic and mail order buyers. However, with mass merchandise buyers, promotional issues are generally paramount. A lot of products fail to make the grade at mass merchandisers because of packaging shortcomings. We have worked with Wal-Mart and other major retailers for more than ten years and we have evaluated thousands of products for them. As a result, we have a very good idea as to what it takes for a product to be successful with sophisticated buying organizations. Ramping up to do business with such firms is often very expensive and generally you don't get a second chance. It pays to get it right the first time.
Third, products that have been marketed on a limited basis may not be well known outside of their market area. Getting buyers to take the time to even look at products unknown to them is often difficult, particularly if the firm is new to them also. Entrepreneurs have been using PIES evaluation reports for years to establish a point of credibility and get their foot in the door with national buyers. An assessment won't sell through a product, but it might help get someone's attention.
2. Should I send samples?
Yes. Samples are important in judging the design and perceived quality of a product and the appropriateness of its packaging. Please note that we do not return samples, and unless you specifically tell us to destroy them, they will be donated to charity or otherwise disposed of.
3. Will you treat the information I send you confidentially?
Yes. We recognize that confidentiality is very important when it comes to sales histories and similar information. We won't disclose the information you send us to anyone without your written instruction.
4. Will your product assessment help improve our chances of success with new buyers?
We hope so, but obviously there are no guarantees that this will happen. Buyers differ significantly in their expectations and it is a very good idea to make sure that your marketing mix -- product, promotion, and pricing -- is appropriate for new channels of distribution.
One of the purposes of our Product Assessment System is to serve as a validity check before attempting to gain an audience with a national level buyer. Sometimes even simple mistakes can cause major delays and outright rejections. It pays to make sure your product is ready for their review. Second chances are difficult to come by.
Another purpose of our program is to provide credibility for those with products of merit. Credibility is important. When a firm and its products are not well known at the national level, it is typically very difficult for that firm to gain the attention of a buyer. For example, it is generally much easier for Proctor and Gamble to launch a new household product than it is for Peter and Gloria. Sometimes it pays to have an independent third party endorsement of your product.
5. If I send my product to you, how do I know I will get a positive endorsement?
You don't. The only thing we guarantee is a candid, objective assessment of the merits of your product. This is the way it has to be. The credibility of our evaluations is directly tied to our objectivity and competence. Our research indicates that the system does work. By separating the wheat from the chaff, we increase the number of products that get through the maze at sophisticated buying organizations.
6. Is your product assessment system the same as your invention evaluation system?
They have the same roots dating back to Dr. Udell's research for the National Science Foundation in the Seventies. This means the two systems have a long history of research and refinement behind them. Many of the questions used are very similar. However, we have modified a number of them to be more appropriate for products already in the market. In addition, we have added a group of review points that are not relevant to inventions. We added them because experience indicated that these issues were often overlooked by manufacturers and product marketing firms.
7. What kind of real life experience do you guys have?
No, we are not a bunch of academics. Even within the university environment we don't use pure academics with little experience outside the classroom. Dr. Udell has a strong academic track record, but he is also a graduate of General Electric's highly respected Marketing Management Development Program and he has held a variety of positions in corporate and smaller enterprises, as well as being an entrepreneur himself. For the most part, our product assessment team is made up of people with hands-on experience, strong professional backgrounds, and training in our evaluation/assessment procedures. We stress competency, rather than history. Our corporate affiliate to review new products and inventions is Innovative Product Technologies, Inc.
Dr. Pamela Riddle Bird is a nationally recognized commercialization expert who directed one of the largest publicly funded innovation centers in the United States and has counseled thousands of inventors and entrepreneurs for nearly two decades.
She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Innovative Product Technologies, Inc. (IPT, Inc.). IPT, Inc. is a product and technology based market commercialization corporation located in Gainesville, Florida with a Northwest branch location in Sandpoint, Idaho. Board of Advisors to this company include: Mr. Lloyd Bell, physicist and former advisor to Mr. J. Louis Reynolds (Reynolds Aluminum) and Mr. Kenneth Parker (Parker Pens); Dr. Forrest M. Bird, inventor of the medical respirator and Inductee into the Inventors Hall of Fame; Dr. Robert Cade, inventor of Gatorade® with worldwide sales of $1.25 billion annually; the late Mr.Edward Lowe , inventor of Kitty Litter®--the cat litter industry is now a $5 billion a year industry; Dr. Jay Morton, Scriptwriter of Superman®,Inventor of the "Pop-Top" aluminum can; Mr. Harris Rosen, successful hotelier and entrepreneur; Mr. Ed Shadd, a member of the development team that created the UPC bar coding system; Mr. John Weber, and founder and former CEO of Monchik-Weber Corporation--sold to McGraw-Hill in 1984.
If you didn't see an answer to a specific question you have, feel free to e-mail us email@example.com
Innovative Product Technologies, Inc.--WIN
P.O. Box 817
Sandpoint, ID 83864
Copyright © 2000 Innovation Institute