The Expert Guide to Product Development

While every retailer and consumer brand goes through some level of product development, the level of complexity and roles involved can vary widely. For many consumer brands, product development is performed to design and develop products to be sold to retailers who sell the product to consumers. In other cases, product development is done “in-house” by a retailer, sourced to a specified vendor, and sold through the retailer’s distribution channels, such as e-commerce sites or physical stores. The latter is the case for many private-label brands.

In this guide, Parker Avery’s product development experts provide a comprehensive overview of the product development process, key capabilities and their importance, as well as common mistakes and challenges we have witnessed throughout Parker Avery’s many client projects. We also explore product development best practices and innovations that can help improve this key functional area.

What is product development?

In the context of retail and consumer goods, product development is the genesis, design, and creation of new products as part of a brand’s assortment that will be sold to a consumer. The broadest definition of product development includes activities that encompass conceiving, designing, developing, sourcing, making, and delivering the product. Narrower definitions include only a subset of these activities. The consensus, and Parker Avery’s viewpoint, is that product development refers to the upfront processes of conceiving, designing, and developing a product, with the latter activities relegated to manufacturing and logistics functions.

There are many levels of complexity in the product development process, and companies can be involved to varying degrees. A complex product development process may be characterized by the retailer designing the product from scratch. On the other side, a simpler product development process would involve a retailer buying products from a supplier’s existing line and making slight adjustments to the design, such as color changes.