Getting a new product on the market is not easy. It needs a good deal of thought and planning and it's important to understand that a product will not "sell itself".
Protecting your product
Before making details of your product public you need to think about whether you intend to protect any aspects of it, using patents, trade marks, design rights and copyright. Thorough searching can help you to determine whether your product is as new as you think it is and may also enable you to avoid infringing someone else's existing rights. Don't assume that just because a product is not on the market it has not been protected. For further information on how to go about searching click on the link for "Patent and trade mark searching."
If you are intending to apply for a patent it is vital that you do not disclose details of your product before filing your patent application. Using a confidentiality agreement (also known as a non-disclosure agreement or NDA) is one way of avoiding potentially damaging disclosures.
The Business Case
It is often the case that if a particular product is not on the market it is because nobody wants it rather than because nobody has thought of it. You need to determine the commercial advantage or benefit of your product.
Knowing your market
The more you know about your market and your customers then the more you can target your product at them. It's also important to be aware of any companies you will be competing with which may prevent you breaking into the market.
Manufacturing the product yourself
If you have the necessary skills and facilities to produce the product yourself this may be the best option particularly if the market for it is not particularly large. You are likely to have more control in this situation. However if the product sells well you may not be able to meet demand.
Approaching a manufacturer
A manufacturer will only be interested in becoming involved in a new product if they are convinced of the product's potential. Just as importantly they will want to be sure that the creator of the product is reliable and not someone simply hoping for a big pay-off in return for some vague ideas.
The following are typical reasons for a manufacturer turning down a new product:
- The inventor hasn't bothered to carry out searches to try to determine whether the product is original.
- The product is too similar to something which has already been patented or too similar to something already on the market.
- The inventor has not carried out sufficient research to show that there is a market for the product - just because friends and family like it is not enough.
- The inventor is unable to show that the product works. It is unlikely that anyone will be interested in an unproven idea. A good prototype can be important - but also expensive.
- The inventor has no idea of the likely cost of production. If it costs more to make than you are likely to get back in sales it will be impossibe to make it an attractive proposition.
You will need to take into account the costs of prototyping and manufacture but also be aware that any distributers and retailers will want their cut. This will need to be built in to your plans for working out the cost of getting your product to market.
Obtaining financial assistance for a new product is not easy and there is no set route by which you can do so. There is no such thing as a grant specifically for inventions. Often it can mean trying to obtain loans or match-funding.
A number of companies offer a service whereby they promise to evaluate a new product and promote it to potential manufacturers. Beware of any company which asks for large amounts of money up-front and makes big promises about your likely success.
If you do intend to use an invention promotion company the following points may be helpful:
- There is a lot of information available for little or no cost. Is the company offering something extra or are they charging over the odds?
- Don't give details of how your product works without using a confidentiality agreement.
- Before paying for a service look around and compare prices. Make sure you know exactly what you are getting before you pay for it.
- Ask for details of their success rate and find out what you can about the company. What sort of reputation do they have?
- If a company offers to do a search for you ask them what the coverage of the search will be (which countries and what time period) and which databases are being used.
There is no easy way to get a new product on to the market and make it a success. It takes a lot of hard work, good advice and a bit of luck - no matter how good the product may be.
If you need help in getting your product to market you may wish to speak to our Innovator in Residence. Click on the link to "Advice and workshops" for more information.