Evidence suggests that there may be as many varieties of new product development systems as there are kinds of companies. For the most part, most companies do have a formal comprehensive new product development system, and the evolution of such systems was not necessarily the result of systematic planning. The list of activities suggested in Figure 7.7 illustrates the extensiveness of this process. Because of the complexity of the process, it is important that the general guidelines of effective management be applied to new product development.13
Before starting our discussion of the eight-step process of new product development, a necessary caveat should be considered: a great many new products fail. Depending on definitions used for products actually introduced, failure rates range between 20 per cent and 30 per cent, but have been as high as 80 per cent. Of more concern than the level of failure are the reasons for failure. Possibilities include: technical problems, bad timing, misunderstanding the consumer, actions by competitors, and misunderstanding the environment.