Taking a recipe from a raw concept into a tangible product is a path paved with challenges and tough decisions. But there are huge rewards on offer for those that can successfully navigate the journey.
A delicious prototype is one thing, but when it’s time to invest significant money in manufacturing and scaling your recipe, there are serious considerations at play.
Does your recipe scale into a salable product? How much is your ideal customer willing to pay? These questions must be answered using research and careful planning. Only then can you embark on the product development journey and start turning your recipe into a formula for commercial success.
When embarking on your product development journey, two questions must be your guide: Can it be made? And should it be made?
If your concept is truly innovative, you're a pioneer in uncharted territory. Commercial success is likely, but is it possible to manufacture this new innovation for a feasible cost?
If you have a product that has been proven to be reproducible at the right price, is there a market for it? If no one is willing to part with the right amount of cash, you do not have a viable product and should not put any more money or resources into it.
Creating your launch plan requires more than a roadmap; it's about defining your mission. You have to understand your launch market and how your choices will affect your journey.
Are you eyeing local farmers' markets, grocery stores, big-box retailers like Target, or selling via online platforms? Each pathway requires a different approach.
A solid business plan becomes your compass, ensuring that you don’t lose sight of your target costs and market approach. Establishing a clear cost of goods sold (COGS) target prior to development is as important as setting the coordinates for your destination.
Lay the foundation of your product launch with a comprehensive project brief. This involves analyzing the impacts on vendors, suppliers, and manufacturers at different scales and helps you understand the landscape you're navigating.
Set your priorities from the outset by understanding the needs and desires of your target audience. Differentiating between must-haves and nice-to-haves will save you time and guide your decisions, helping you avoid the pitfalls of competitive redundancy, high product cost and mismatched shelf-life expectations.
Whether you choose to do most of the work yourself, lean on friends, or hire experts depends on your circumstances.
Either way, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and determination to make your product launch a success. The value of your unpaid hours is known as sweat equity. While putting in sweat equity can reduce costs, you need to be mindful of what you can do and when it’s better to pay a specialist to complete a task to a professional standard.
While it might be tempting to hire friends who have knowledge indifferent fields, to get the most value, it’s usually wise to stick to specialists and professionals. Friends may offer support, but specialist advice often leads to more substantial and quicker success.
Consider building a balanced team with experienced founders and specialist advisors to keep some objectivity in your decision-making.Experience is invaluable in making tough decisions that involve large quantities of capital. Investing in expert help tends to pay for itself many times over in the long run.
This stage is about exploring various manufacturing options and coming up with your final formulation. Research the relevant equipment, processes, and packaging options, engaging with experts in your category, and leveraging various industry resources such as equipment vendors, ingredient suppliers, university partners, and industry consultants.
This is where it really pays to have experienced industry professionals on your team and on your board of advisors.
Iterate on the current formulation with commercial raw materials to arrive at a gold standard that connects with real-world manufacturing options. Where possible, engage industry experts as you refine your formulation before engaging potential manufacturing partners.
Development costs will be substantial and vary dramatically byproduct, even if you're driving the project yourself. Consider the cost of trials, raw materials, packaging, distribution, and initial production. Every trial is likely to cost tens of thousands of dollars in addition to the considerable time and money spent creating and optimizing the product.
Break down the costs associated with the first production run, which could be between $50 - 120 thousand to get ready and run the minimum order. It’s important to be realistic about what you can raise and understand the costs involved.
Detail every expense and ensure you have enough capital to cover subsequent runs and market expansion. Planning for future expenses is key as if you run out of money, the whole project will come to an end.
Your product claims must align with your targeted COGS. So you must be ready to adapt your product based on costs and consumer pricing expectations.
With your must-haves and nice-to-haves in mind, and using your audience research along with what you’ve learned through your trial runs, you can fine-tune your formulation.
Once you have a viable product formulation, you can adjust its features and your claims to reflect what you can realistically offer in the finished product.
It’s important to educate yourself about the manufacturing landscape. Understanding waitlists, and recognizing the need to adapt products to meet constraints are essential to ensure you stay on budget and to know when you need to invest more to get the product to market.
Product guardrails are strategic constraints that help keep your project on track. They may take the form of time or budget limits. You set these metrics and then use them to guide your decisions when the time comes.
With the understanding of steps for a successful product launch, it’s time to transform your product from a great idea to a viable business opportunity. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and grit, but with the principles and steps we've highlighted, you have the roadmap to success.
Having a seasoned guide can make all the difference if you’re looking for extra support and guidance on your journey. JPG Resources is hereto support, you whether you need industry expertise, hands-on help with product development, or specialist advice.
About the Author:
George Squire has over 30 years of technical and managerial expertise. He excels innovation and renovation programs for top brands like Kellogg, Kraft, and Post. From concept to execution, he melds industry insight and the ability to push boundaries. As an effective cross-functional team leader, George offers confidential services for concept development, prototyping and more.