Product Development in the Cable Industry: Problems And Prospect



PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT IN THE CABLE INDUSTRY: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECT. (A CASE STUDY OF CUTIX CABLE PLC NNEWI ANAMBRA STATE)

 As part of this project to identify those prospects and problems that pose a constraint to cable producers towards development products attention has been directed to many intelligent personnel who has done research on product development and problems to be faced before a new product is developed.

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For the avoidance of doubt, it will be of importance to have a look at what the word “new” stands for. According to the Oxford Advance Learners Dictionary, the word “new” denotes “not existing before” “introduced for the first time” Derivable from the above, therefore is the fact that a new product is that which had not existed before and has just been Introduced for the first.

2.2 REVIEW OF CURRENT LITERATURE BASED ON VARIABLES OF THE THEORIES, MODELS, HYPOTHESIS AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Okafor A.I. (1996:107) in his book “principles of marketing” (the automatic approach) emphasized that “certain reasons are advanced for the development of a new product at intervals which includes development of products in order to have replacement for existing one which is nearing the and of their life cycle” it is also important for us to know the meaning of new product. A new product can be minor modification to the existing features in the item, which is totally new in concept. Also an existing product taken to a new market will make the product to be looked at as new product in the new market. The term “new product” depend on the view of company concerned what may not be looked at as a new product by the leader in the industry may be reffered to as “new” by some other firms within that particular industry.

Newly developed and introduced product can fail because of one or a combination of the following reasons:-

  1. Through under or over estimation of demand resulting from carrying of excess inventory, or lack of adequate inventory to meet up with the demand created in the market.
  2. Unforeseen or product deficiency during usage by users.
  3. New product do not offer consumers any added advantage other than already existing brands.
  4. Inadequate marketing efforts to push and pull the new product along the distribution network.
  5. When projected cost is higher than actual cost, this may result to higher selling prices and shortfall in sales volume.
  6. If competitors find it very easy to introduce their own brand of product almost along side the new product.
  7. Unforeseen change in consumers taste and performances immediately the product is introduced.

Also in the book of Okafor A.A. (1996:107) of principles of marketing. He highlighted the product development process in which he said “that once an organization has identified a need for a particular new product, the firm has to pass through eight (8) steps towards the development of such desired product”.

These stages are as follows:-

  1. IDEA GENERATION: This is the acquisition of information or data towards the development of the needed product which can come from either internal or external sources. Internal data sources includes the research and development department employees, customer care department, sales representatives, company subsiaries and through joint development with major customers.

The external data sources are made up of product development agencies, sponsors, licensing from other firms, tatent rights from other companies, joint development programmes with other companies, buying up of their companies with good research and development departments, trade and technical journals, exhibitions and trade fairs etc.

  1. SCREENING OF IDEAS: let us assume that a company was fortunate enough to collect a reasonable number of ideas from various sources each of these ideas are likely candidates to be turned into a final product. But it will be disastrous trying to produce products to represent those individual ideas. One thing is certain, the company may not have adequate resources and manpower presently manufacture products to cover all the collected ideas.

Secondly, the total cost and benefit that the firm will meet up each of the product ideas throughout individual product life cycle differently. The company will always want to go for those ideas for which they have the resources and manpower to produce and that will give them the needed return on their investment more so should the company produce an unreasonable number of products and introduce it in the market, they are likely to fail, due to many products fighting for demand at the introductory stage.

With these it is very important that the numerous ideas so collected be screened very well in order to eliminate the unviable and unprofitable ideas.

  1. BUSINESS ANALYSIS: In the business stages, the organization is mainly concerned need with financial aspects associated with the product idea should it be manufactured into physical product. A more details cost benefit analysis is carried out based on determination of pay back period, average rate of the pay back period, average rate of return, present value towards the rate of idea that passed the idea screening stage. Payback period is the number of years it will take to recover the initial investment in the project or product.
  2. CONCEPT TESTING: A product concept is the meaning about a product that the company tries to communicate to the consumer (Phillip Kotler, 1976). A product concept which can be a prototype line is shown to some customers to rank a number of product concepts. The main purpose of all product concept test are:-
  3. To determine respondents effects or feeling for a like or dislike for the concept.
  4. To measure the likely initiation of respondents for purchase or non-purchase of the product and
  5. To get answer as to why respondents are willing or unwilling to buy the product where the result of the product concept is positive, that takes the new product team to the product development stages.
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However, if the result becomes negative, the whole product idea may need to be dropped. Presently a concept testing is usually carried out by specialist (Agencies) to determine the likely acceptability of the product.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT: The idea on paper is given to production department with specific instrument to manufacture proto-type of the new product according to specification. At product development stage, there is need for various departments (engineering, marketing, product and research and development) to co-ordinate their efforts towards the realization of the much desired product. If the product development team advances to the next important stage the product test stage.

PRODUCT TEST: For some product, it may become very necessary that new products be exposed to a product. Product test is detailed testing of new and evaluation of prototypes of the new product. This exercise is very vital because, during the production stage. Some in built faults (not easily detected) may exist with the new product. During the product testing stage, the product is exposed to the likely environment under which it will finally be Utilized. It is believed that any in-built fault id likely to be made known during the product test stage. If there is a minor faults the product is taken back to production department for the problem to be corrected.

Test marketing: Marketing is defined as the introduction of a product in limited geographical areas to determine if the product should be introduced to the national market. Firms are warned not to carry out the market test in too many cities, for an unreasonable length of time. They are also to use cities that are representative of the (universe) entire market as their test centers. If the firm used too many unreasonable test centers their competitors many easily come to know their plan to introduce a new production the market. If this happens, other companies will hasten and all the firms may introduce their brands which may level to the failure of most (if not all) of the product in the representative cities for the specific duration of time the likely demand for the product in the national market can thus before gotten. If the result proves positive, the organization will then mass produce (ie commercialization) and launch or introduce the new product in the market.

COMMERCIALIZATION: This is the last stage of the struggle towards the development of any new product it is also referred as too as the launch for the new product before this stage, only reasonable unit (necessary for the test marketing) has been produced with the market test of the new products the organization having predicted the sales for the new product now produce the appropriate quantity to meet up with the likely demand in the market. Before the commercialization stage, serious coordination is required to have taken place between the organization and all the channel intermediaries immediately the new product has been introduced into the market, it is then handled over to the marketing team that sees to the management of the new product along the entire period of the new product life cycle. The product development team goes back to take a new assignment of yet a new product. We have discussed the product life cycle as if the exist only one life cycle for all products. In the real sense there exists different product need to travel through each of the mentioned stages of the product life cycle is the same. Organizations also need to development their product because on the fact that, there is one thing that is certain to happen to any firm at any point in time which is the fact that a product that is fast selling today may die tomorrow or be withdrawn.

According to Okafor A.I. (1996: 109) in this book, principles of market there exist five stages in the life of a product, those stages includes:

  1. Research and development
  2. Introduction
  3. Growth
  4. Maturity
  5. Decline and possible withdrawal stage

He includent the research and development stage for the fact that no product can exist without going through the research and development stage. The product can even die a natural death while still in the research and development stage.

  1. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Before the product can be introduced into the market, it has to be developed like products, human beings has to be developed in their mothers womb before the new baby can come into the world. In research and development stage, market research activity is carried out to know what kind of product to produce. Finally prototype or samples of the new product are manufactured. At this particular stage, the organization’s running cost is very high and no cash is realized since sales did not take place.
  2. INTRODUCTION STAGE: During the introduction stage, sales tends to be very low, profit is nothing to write home about ie, profit is very minimal. Cash still borne by other products, competitors are few, management objective towards expanding the market, market expenditure is very high so as to make the product known in the market, distribution is very skelety, price tends to be very high in order to cover high cost of investments in research and development. However, if there are many competitors, the firm may follows a penetration price policy with the objective of gradually increase price along with competitors at a future date or time.
  3. GROWTH STAGE: At this stage, there is a rapid increase in sales volume profit are at it’s optimum level, cash flows moderately, research and development cost is now borne by the product, competitors growing, management objectives are more on market penetration, marketing emphasis works towards the creation of brands preference distribution strategy is very intensive, price is a bit toward and the product is improved.
  4. MATURITY: At this stage, the rate of growth in sales slows down, profits has started declining cash flows are high, research and development cost are still borne by the product competitors are many with their own management expenditure tends to be reduced due to declining profits, marketing emphasis is directed towards the creation brand loyalty, intensive distribution still remain all the same, price tends to be lower and products are differentiate more.
  5. DECLINE AND POSSIBLE WITHDRAWAL: At this stage, sales starts to deline profit are low, cash flow is low, research and development cost are already paid off, many competitors withdraws their brands from the market, marketing expenditure is low, marketing emphasis is directed to selected segments distribution returns to selective or skeletal nature, price is further lowered, product may be withdrawn at this stage. Differing slightly from that of Mr. Okafor A.I. conception of life cycle of a product, W.K. Meniru (1990: 130) sees, the product life cycle as consisting of the followings:
  6. Introduction
  7. Growth
  8. Maturity
  9. Saturation
  10. Decline/possible withdraw
  11. Abandonment
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  1. INTRODUCTION STAGE: Sales are low as a new idea is first introduction in a market. Customers are not looking for the product. They don’t even know about it. Information promotion is needed to tell potential customers about the advantages of the new product even though a firm promotes its new product is available. The introduction stage usually is market by losses with much money spent for promotion, product and place development. Money is being invested in the hope of future profits.
  2. GROWTH STAGE: In the hope of future profits, profits rises often at a rapid rate. Competitors enters the market in large number if the profit out look is particularly attractive. Sellers shift to a “buy by product” proportional strategy. The number of distribution outlets increases and prices may come down a bit. Some firms adopt a “used – apple policy” at this stage. The deliberately let other firms developments for new products and then comes in during growth phase, they uses apple companies introduce their own brands.
  3. maturity stage: In the maturity stage, sales growth rates decline dramatically the sales curve levels off. The first firms into the market have recovered the investment in their respective brand. But the increase in competitors place even greater downward pressure on prices and margins for both manufacture and intermediaries. New firms may still enter the marke at this stage increasing competitions the more.
  4. SATURATION STAGE: In this stage, where there is a stand still, the profit remains stable for some time at this stage the company start thinking of introducing another product.
  5. DECLINE AND POSSIBLE WITHDRAWAL STAGE: At this stage new product tends to replace more rigorously, but firm with strong brands may make profits almost until the end. Cost control become increasingly important as demand drops. Advertising declines and a number of competitors withdraws from the market. Whether the product has to be abandoned or the surviving seller can continue making profit in a limited market, this often depends on profitable basis in the limited market also it depends on managerial abilities of the firm.
  6. ABANDONMENT: This is the last stage in the product life cycle. The product is completely dead or abandoned. It is worthy of note that W.K Menirus views in respect of what constitutes the stage in product life cycle was equally accepted and re-achoed by Nnabuko, Justice in his book “Marketing Management”. Thus, Nnabuko, Justice sees the stages in product life cycle to include.
    1. The introduction stage
    2. Growth
  • Maturity
  1. Saturation stage
  2. Decline stage
  3. Abandonment stage

Stanton W.J. (1985: 962) in his book “Fundamentals of marketing” said that if buyer perceive that a given item is significantly different (from competitive goods replaced) in some characteristics appearance, it is new product. It is very important to note that a new product does not mean new for inressanable period of time. For most developed, countries, six months is the maximum time that a product should be called new. William D. Perbreatt R.J. Mcafly, (1990:102) in the eight edition of their book basic marketing said that “a new product development is often the key to a firms success. “But, this is not easy as a new product development demands on effort, time and talent on the part of the company’s employees”. The failure rate of new product though high it is also lower in a case of longer and better managed firms. Firms that recognize product development and management as a vital process in organization do succeed.

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Some firms appoint managers to manage individual products and also new product committees to ensure that this process is carried out successfully.

According to W.K. Menira (1990: 130) in his book Marketing Research and product development is achieved by offering a wide range of product or several varieties of the product”.

There are three main reasons that many lead to this:

  1. First of all, existing plant may be capable to produce more than it has been, or market research may have discovered an insatisfied by the factory.
  2. Secondly, there may be by products which are worthy of developing.
  • Lastly, there is only a seasonal demand for a product it is for a second product to be introduced in the remaining months of the years.

Thus, at one time people would not eat pork dishes in summer so as famous park savage firm took to manufacturing ice-cream in the summer so that they did not have a discharge valuables employees in the off-season. Part from the above, W.K. Meniru, (1990: 134) in the same book marketing research and product development first edition goes further to state or highlight the importance of new product.

According to this academic icons, the importance of new product, development area as follows:

  1. It helps in achievement of sales growth and profit maximization.
  2. Positive consumers reaction to a competition’s new product may be a reason for a firm to introduce new product.
  • New product is used to replace age, absolute or unsuccessful ones.
  1. The need to smooth out seasonal sales fluctuation, exploring new opportunities and using excess plant capacity are additional reasons for developing new products. This literature review may not be and why new product fail. W.K. Meniru, in his book “Marketing Research” offers the following as reasons for the failure of new product.
  1. INADEQUATE MARKET ANALYSIS: Over estimating potential sales of the new product, inability to determine buying new motives and habits and misjudgments as to what products the market wanted.
  2. PRODUCT DEFICIENCIES: Poor quality and performance, product that were too complicated and especially products that did not offer may significant advantage cover competing item already on the market.
  3. LACK OF EFFECTIVE MARKETING EFFORT: failure to provide sufficient follow-up effort introductory programme and failure to train marketing personal or new products and new markets.
  4. HIGHER COSTS THAN ANTICIPATED: This led to higher prices, which in turn lead to lower sales volume than anticipated.
  5. COMPETITIVE STRENGTH OR REACTION: Speed and case of copying and innovation led to an over could market.
  6. poor training of introduction: The usual mistake here was to introduce a product too late, although is a few cases, the problem has premature market entry.
  7. technical or production problems: Companies could produces sufficient quantities to meet demands, competition gained an in anticipated share or market.

 

2.3  SUMMARY OF LITERATURE REVIEW

New product development is the bed rock of any company that wants to grow and attained it’s objectives which it wants to control the lion share. There is no way a company can grow and get to maturity stage without putting into consideration new product development because once a product gets to the decline stage of its life cycle for such a product to be withdrawn to the market a must be replaced by something better than what was in the market. Often in does not necessarily means that the existing product must be withdraw before a new product is developed. At times some of the characteristics or variable in the old product are changed so as for position the product in the market in order to solve the gaining of the customers.

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