Product development processes for different products

Products can be classified as business-to-business (or industrial), service and consumer. All have the same basic product development but there are significant differences, and the food industry has added differences to each type of product development.

In business-to-business product development there are usually only a few customers, but each customer is a company with a group of people interested in the product, who usually have technical knowledge of the product and its relationship to their processing and product. Not only has the immediate customer to be considered but also the ultimate customer/consumer of the buyer's product. Product specifications are very important and the customer may detail the product design specifications that will then limit the area for product design. The total product of quality, quantity, delivery, price, service has to be recognised in the product design, but the product quality and price are usually the dominant factors. The PD Process has four important features: detailed, quantitative, product design specifications; customer testing of product prototypes; pilot plant and then production testing with the customer; final contracts for supply (Earle and Earle, 2000; Fuller, 1994; Haas, 1995).

Food service can be divided into two parts - marketing of the ingredients or part meals to the food outlet and of the meal/snack to the consumer. Both types of marketing are a mixture of product and service; but in the restaurant, the service can be the major component. Eating meals in a McDonald's or a fancy restaurant is an experience for the individuals and includes intangible experiences such as fun and sophistication. The service is produced and delivered in close proximity, and there are direct reactions between the supplier and the consumer. In both types of food service development, there is participation of the supplier and the buyer in the product concept development and in the product design, because the interaction with the product and each other need to be part of the design (Johne and Storey, 1998; Shekar and Earle, 1997; Terrell and Middlebrooks, 1996). There is a degree of heterogeneity in food service development because people are different but as can be seen in McDonald's product design this can be reduced if the complete product plus service is developed. In developing ingredients for the food service customer, there are fundamental product qualities such as price, quality and safety, but also one must consider the buyer' s food preparation and storage facilities and use of labour and energy. The consumer buying the meal or snack has the needs shown in other consumer products but also wants a social eating occasion. 'Food must please; food must entertain; food must satisfy; food must comfort' (Fuller, 1994).

Developing consumer products for marketing in supermarkets is the product development usually described in textbooks (Stinson, 1996). The development of the consumer products is mostly concerned with the design of the physical product, and there are minimal services for example information on the package; so that there is concentration on the consumer/product relationship in the design.

Management has to recognise the difference between the different types of product development and develop the product strategy and the company organisation to work efficiently in each area.

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