If you want to maximize your new product success rate, market research, specifically consumer market research, must be an integral part of your new product development process.

My favorite blogger, Jeffrey Henning of Vovici, posted a new blog earlier this year summarizing a speech Doron Meyassed of Promise Communities presented about how online communities are changing the innovation process from a project-based model to an iterative and integrated one.

“Customer input often brackets the traditional innovation process: qualitative research is conducted upfront to understand the appeal of ideas, then those ideas are compromised to be feasible as they are translated into actual products; three possible editions of the product are tested to determine which is best. Everyone pats themselves on the back for including the customer. Truly including the customer, however, means turning to the customer for feedback each step of the way, iteratively. If engineering has to suggest other solutions based on technical capabilities, customer feedback is immediately solicited on those tradeoffs, rather than waiting till the end of the process.”

Can you honestly say that more than 60% of the products your company has commercialized in the past five years have been successful? If not, it is time to completely overhaul your new product development process to, as Jeffrey put it, “truly include the customer”. At a minimum, you should have a consumer advisory board. Better still, you should have an online community.