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The Crucial Importance of Crude Prototypes in Launching And Marketing New Consumer Products

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The most spectacular example of stunning full-cycle product development partner design extant in the world today must surely be on display in Marinello, Italy at the Ferrari Auto works. Ferrari is the apex of beauty; exclusivity, performance, and technology, all bundled into one visually stunning work of mobile art. The famous Prancing Horse icon, seen racing down a winding road, attached to a Ferrari is one of the most beautifully alluring visions in the world.

The legendary Ferrari, so rarely seen on the road or in showrooms is the highest form of world-famous Italian design. However, like any other car, the Ferrari is conceived only after small-scale models and prototypes are made. Typically the first prototypes are crafted from clay. Then they are critiqued, tweaked, and reworked. Only after much prototype development work is conducted is the car ready to go to engineering for planning and detailed design and construction.

The Ferrari is never produced from a single prototype design. The styling group is always looking to improve and enhance the design. Even when the silhouette of the shape appears perfect, the designers continue to strive for perfection. This drive to make a “Ferrari” is what makes the car so desirable.

Consumer Products that are considered “Hard Goods” are always evolved from prototypes. Established Companies with sophisticated Engineering and Marketing Departments intentionally seek “crudeness” in early design. This relatively undefined “alpha” model is purposely created to spark creative input. Product Design Engineers have learned that a near-perfect or too-finished prototype results in too much agreement and too little critical thought. It is critical that generate improvement.

Toy Companies always utilize prototypes to pre-test responses from children before entering production. Jewelry manufacturers use wax and then alloy prototypes to ensure the integrity and detail of the design. Sporting Goods, Small Electrics, Sporting Goods, Packaging Components, and Pet Products are made in the same way.

Another reason to produce prototypes through a “crudeness” cycle is to insure proof of product performance. A Consumer Product that must be built from tooling in the manufacturing process requires a significant investment. The cost of a crude prototype can be a source of great savings by confirming the Features and Benefits of the product before spending any monies on the construction of molds.

As the prototype is improved and finished it will take on the look of the go-to-market product that the Sales, Marketing, and Branding departments will launch.

For Entrepreneurs the prototype process is crucial. My Product Development and Marketing Consulting firm work extensively with inventors and small businesses. The proper investment in obtaining a Production Quality Prototype is often an enterprise’ Achilles Heel. This is a reality that we must constantly restate.


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