Export Marketing – How to Develop Products for Export

Before you think of developing a product for export or even adapting an existing one, it is important to make a distinction between a product and a product type. A motor vehicle is product type, but a “Toyota”, a very popular Japanese car, is a product.

New product types are rarely created. An exporter who can come up with a better version of an existing product will succeed as a market for such a product already exists. The manufacturers of Toyota have worked very hard to make their cars so popular although the vehicles are not much different from any others you find on our roads. But think of how much harder they would have to work to come up with a completely new mode of land transportation.

There is business in the re-modeling or re-packaging of existing products, that is, creating new products out of the existing ones. Sometimes only very minor adjustments are required, for example, using a colorless clear bottle for a whiskey that is traditionally sold in an opaque bottle.

If you decide to copy products of another manufacturer you will be running the risk of patent or copyright infringement. But you can avoid the risk and still exploit the success of a new product by making slight modifications in the design of the product you want to copy as long as you do not try to confuse the public into thinking that they are buying the original product.

The Product:

Any new product ideas should take into account the following factors:-

An understanding of how buyers conceive a product. This will include physical and non-physical elements such as the product itself, packaging, after sales service, brand name, the image it portrays and the benefits they expect out of using the product.
The product must be made to meet the standards and styling of the customer and not the manufacturer. This is the importance of a good market research.
Expected Life Cycle of the product. “Product Types” may go on for ever but “Products”, like all living things, progress in definite stages from birth to maturity, then death.
Possible patent or copyright infringement which may lead to legal action.
The Product Life Cycle:

Introduction: The product is launched and, if it finds buyers, sales rise slowly,
Growth: The product is becoming accepted and if it catches on, there is a period of rapid growth in sales. If it fails to catch on it should be withdrawn at this stage for possible modification or to try a different market.
Maturity: Sales growth reaches the apex and starts to slow down,
Stagnation: Sales level off and further expenditure on sales promotion become uneconomical.
Decline: Sales start to decline as demand for the product goes down
When stagnation starts, research should reveal the cause and corrective measures taken before the decline commences. A product may be given a new lease of life by being changed in some way, either substantially or just the way it is presented.

It is important to note here that although it is true that the life cycles of most products follow almost the same pattern, the length of the cycle itself varies greatly. For example, the life cycle of fashion dresses is relatively short compared to that of capital goods which, in some cases, may be as long as 20 years. Life cycles of particular products or product types may vary from country to country.

Once the product life cycle is understood, the planning of when to introduce a new product or make changes on the existing product can be done more accurately.

Festus Muga

Hello Fellow Small Scale Entrepreneur,

I am a freelance writer and have a wealth of experience in the Banking Industry. I have worked as a member of the management team of an international bank and am well versed in Business Development and Financing, Financing of Foreign Trade, Import/Export Processing and Documentation.

I have successfully managed an Export/Import Agency of my own which has given me quite an experience in the pros and cons of international business.