ENGLISH LANGUAGE Directions (Q. 1 to 10):
Read the given passage carefully and answer the questions following it.
The deciding factor in any business's ability to exploit its product innovations commercially is the relationship between its marketing and R & D departments. In spite of this, however, many innovations still fail because of a fundamental misunderstanding of what marketing is.
Success for any product or service depends on identifying a target market and testing its commercial viability with that target market to strike the right balance between product or service quality and the price consumers are willing to pay.
However, while many large, successful businesses have systems in place to ensure research and development is market-led, their scale can make them slow to respond to market changes. While smaller businesses may be more flexible, limited resources often mean smaller marketing departments are more sales-focused, concentrating on what happens once a product has been made, rather than feeding into the product development process.
'Marketing is not just about advertising and communications once a new product has been developed,it's about getting under the skin of consumers, identifying target markets and formulating the best market positioning for a new product', says David Nicholls, global client director of international marketing consultancy Added Value. 'Yet all too often R&D and marketing departments fail to work closely together.The result is that marketing is a fundamental missing link whose absence profoundly limits a company's ability to deliver commercially successful product innovation' he adds.
A marketing department's involvement in product development should begin right at the start of the process. Only in this way can a team know that the product they are developing will be relevant to a specific target market, and packaged and presented accordingly.
Unless you continually market or test a product innovation throughout its development, the risk is it will no longer be relevant to the market by the time of its launch. Says Manlio Minale, a consultant at brand consultancy Wolff Olins. ''And unless you keep testing it once its in the market, as big a danger is the risk that a products' rivals will quickly catch up."
Staying ahead of the competition has been an important issue for Marina, a business built on its development of the Marina wind-up radio which now produces a diverse range of self-sufficient power products. 'While the best way we can protect our market position is by ensuring we continue to make the best self-generating energy products on the market, it is also important for us to continually update and innovate our product's quality and functionality so as people copy us we stay one step ahead, which is where marketing insight truly comes into its own', says Rory Stone, Marina's executive chairman. Achieving this,however, has taken time.
When a business is engineering-led there is a tendency to focus only on producing the best product."But you can't create a Rolls-Royce in a market where you'll only ever be able to command a Ford Mondea price." Mr Stone points out. "You've got to learn how to compromise without undermining your product's quality and integrity. It's about knowing what your market wants, and what your market will bear."
Getting the right culture within an organisation - not only to foster innovation but channel it effectively to maximize its commercial return - is a significant challenge for many businesses. Engineers focusing on product development don't naturally think about the consumer when they're doing what they do,which is why feeding the consumer insight and even retailer's opinions into the product development process where feasible is really important.
Another obstacle can be a company's internal structure and the impact this may have on corporate culture. ''Marketers must force themselves into the product development process, and to do this they need the support of a chief executive who thinks this is important, too." Mr. Stone says. "Commercially successful innovation depends on vision, a desire to be radical, to challenge and to break the mould that must come from the top down within an organisation'. Mr Nicholls at Added Value believes. He says, "Every consumer need is already satisfied by at least 20 products, That's why innovation must be driven by marketing rather than product design". Consumer insight is not just a by-word for market research, however, "it is not about data and reports, it's about understanding your consumer and putting that understanding at the heart of everything your business does." Mr Nicholls adds. "As Markets become saturated and more products find it harder to differentiate themselves from their rivals by functionality alone, customer service is becoming an increasingly important differentiator between products. As a result, how consumers experience products and services is becoming an increasingly important part of marketing especially for innovations." says Mr Minaleat Wolff Olins. "I-pod isn't just a great product innovation; Apple is creating a whole economy around it with the development of related services such as itunes." he explains. "Apple is working to reinvent the music market by creating its own world, something it has in common with all successful product innovators. The best product and service innovations use consumer insight to change the way we think about doing things."
Without doubt successfully bringing product innovations to market is getting tougher as products grow more similar and consumer needs decline. Not so long ago a business could ask itself: "What consumer need can this new product satisfy". In today's climate, however, few, if anyone, can afford to think like that anymore.