By Vanessa Ting
Don’t wait until your product is finished before telling your buyer you have new products in the pipeline. Take your buyer along as a partner during the development cycle. Get his/her feedback on the product positioning, packaging, pricing and styles before you place the first production order. Show your buyer a prototype – whether it is a CAD or mock-up. See if they are excited, lukewarm or hate it. And then find out why. (Tip: Buyerly.com is a resource for doing “market research” with retail buyers.)
Getting buyers on board earlier makes the subsequent sell-in process much easier since they have advised which changes would excite them and make your product “retail ready” in their stores. And I guarantee you that the idea you developed will have overlooked something critical to buyers.
I get the following question a lot. But what if they steal my idea? First of all, if you are already a vendor of theirs, they won’t steal it. Second of all, which scenario is better:
- Protect an idea from outsiders so much that you fail to strengthen the idea and launch a mediocre product.
- Get feedback from buyers and feel confident in its market viability and know that buyers have given it their stamp of approval before you spend tens of thousands of dollars on development.
If you answered #2, you are savvy and understand how to evaluate risk.
Let’s be honest. It is unlikely you are the first one to have ever thought of that specific product idea. Everyone has ideas, but what separates everyone from you is EXECUTION. Not everyone executes on their ideas. They are risk-averse, don’t have the money, unmotivated, etc – fact is, only a small percentage of people’s ideas make it to market. For those who do take action, they execute that product idea in different ways. There are so many decisions along the path that alter how your product will be in final form. So while five companies may have the same idea (look at the Cosmetics aisle, every brand has similar products), what differentiates the ideas is how they are executed in packaging, pricing, brand, benefits, etc. So to make sure your new product idea is well-executed and distinct, get the buyers input early on to help you outperform your competitors. And the buyers will appreciate the heads-up on what is coming down the pipeline so they can begin thinking and planning how they will capitalize on this new product launch. Win-win.