If you studied business in college or work for a company that develops products I am sure you are familiar with the product life cycle stages. All products have a lifespan and go through the general stages of its cycle. The first is development. This is a involved process that typically uses a lot of resources and returns no revenue as there is not a product to sell yet. Then you move into the introduction stage as the product becomes available on the market and progresses on through the remaining stages.
In my experience the development stage does not and should not stop once the product is introduced to the market. Products evolve and are modified and improved during its life cycle. Often times when you develop a product you enter the introduction stage with a minimum viable product (MVP). This is a product that offers the minimum features and functionality that is deemed acceptable to the market. This helps shorten the time to market so the product can begin generating revenue. Once the MVP is released the development continues so the next run or model can offer more to the end user.
Another reason the development needs to continue is because once a product hit the mass market and consumers start to use and abuse the product issues might be discovered that were not found during initial testing. Take the Mini Travelmate for instance. The idea behind the Mini Travelmate was to provide a more compact and economical version of the original Travelmate. To accomplish this, the large plastic plate was eliminated from the Mini and replaced with two smaller cross plates. This reduces the weight of the product and minimizes the amount of raw materials needed for production resulting in a lighter and more cost effective product. The other major changed was we eliminated using the polyurethane razor wheels and replaced them with less expensive rubber wheels.
The design modifications’ net result is a lighter more compact and less expensive version of the Travelmate that delivers the same convenience and maneuverability. However, now that the product has been on the market for almost a year we have had to make some changes. After the Mini Travelmate was on the market for a while and sales began to increase we were getting some customer complaints that the wheels were not rolling very well. Another issue was that some customers complained of a strong odor when they opened the box. We eventually pinpointed the odor to the wheels as well. So, the development of the mini has continued on through the life cycle stages and we have stopped using the rubbers wheels and went back to the good old orange razor wheels. The net result of the changes? A lighter, fully assembled, less expensive version of the Travelmate that rolls smooth and doesn’t smell. And, most importantly, happy customers.
The other lesson here is to speak up. Don’t be afraid to call a company directly (preferably before you post a horrible review) and share your opinion and experience. Some companies actually listen. At least we do at Go-Go Babyz so if you have a question, concern, or complaint make sure to contact our customer service department.
VP & Dad