A new product line takes time, resources and strategic planning to create. How do you know when the time is right?
The answer is deceptively simple: The right time to launch a new product line is when you can meet your market's needs. Several cues point to the timing and viability of an idea. Here are some considerations to guide you:
Your Market Demands Something You Could Execute Well
A consistent stream of sales requests is a good sign, because it means your target customers want something and are actively seeking it out. After seeing these requests, you and your sales representatives should analyze these inputs to see if any patterns have developed, and determine whether your company is positioned to develop the right solution, from both a financial and skill perspective.
For instance, Poornima Vijayashanker of Femgineer launched a series of business education courses after noticing high levels of engagement on her blog. Her business had reached a critical mass in terms of audience size, and Vijayashanker felt confident that she was in a strong position to sell her product. She now runs an online television series, too.
You Anticipate Competition
Over time, markets become saturated, so it's important to periodically build competitive differentiators to help your business stand out. It's also important to monitor your market closely and, from there, find a way to deliver the best possible product or service to your customers.
An example of this is Amazon.com. From startup to massive enterprise, the company has continued to find ways to differentiate its e-commerce capabilities. In its early days, Amazon.com was a bookseller, but it soon pivoted to e-commerce marketplace and after that, to a media business. Today, the company is producing its own TV shows and is pursuing grocery solutions and delivery drones.
You Realize Your Product/Market Fit Is Off
The right product/market fit is one of the most important goals in business, especially in the earliest days of a venture. If you realize your product isn't a fit for your target market, you'll need to course correct.
Daina Burnes Linton, CEO and co-founder of fashion technology company Fashion Metric, decided to change her company's direction before she touched her first line of Web code. Linton realized her customers needed a solution that was different from her idea, she explained in a talk given at the 2013 Lean Startup Conference, so she built it.
Your company's direction will come from your customers, so pay close attention to the demands of your market. Once you see where your target market's needs and your capabilities intersect, along with what your competition offers, you'll be in a better position to decide on a new product line.