Why a Product Is Either New Or Improved – Not Both

When a product is introduced, it is important to establish in a prospective customer’s mind what the benefits of the product are. Product improvements usually remedy the existing problems posed by existing products for existing customers. On the other hand, new products enable unknown problems to be solved for existing customers– as well as allowing new customers to be introduced to the company’s products. So product improvements usually deal with past or present offerings, while new products take into account future customer needs.

An improved product generally builds on an existing offering. Any improvements to the product should be done so that they address existing customer concerns, leading to higher usage, sales, or both among existing customers. Unfortunately, for some customers these improvements will occur for aspects of the product which are of little or no concern. In these instances, it is important to stress that the product improvement(s) add very little to the final price, as the cost of improvement is spread out among many purchases. Clearly, the product features (or absence thereof) which receive the most negative comments are among the most important to improve in future product versions. Of course, positive product features can be made better as well, as long as the improvement is noticeably significant. However, an improved product which does not meet some customer demand is not much of an improvement at all.

A new product, on the other hand, can appeal not only to existing customers, but to entirely new customer market segments as well. The new product may fill in the gap of an existing product, either one created by your firm, or by another firm. The new product could serve as an introduction to people who are inexperienced with your other products, or as a more advanced version for those who are extremely familiar with them. A new product must be carefully planned, and its exact purpose will depend on the specifics of a particular industry, as well as the competitive offerings which are currently available to customers.

Thus, a product improvement helps to fix customer complaints with past (and sometimes present) versions of a company’s offerings. New products represent an anticipation of what customers (both new and existing) may need in the future. In using the proper combination of the two, it is possible for a company to both address past failures, as well as make the most out of future sales opportunities for its products, thereby ensuring continued customer interest in all of its offerings.

Copyright 2010, by Marc Mays