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3M’s New Product Process

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Since about half of 3M’s products are less than five years old, the process used by 3M to develop new product innovations is critical to its success and continued growth. Every innovation must meet 3M’s new product criteria: (1) be a patentable or trademarked technology; (2) offer a superior value proposition to consumers; and (3) change the basis of competition by achieving a significant point of difference.

When developing a new product innovation such as the 3M Greptile Grip golf glove, 3M uses a rigorous seven-step process: (1) ideas, (2) concept, (3) feasibility, (4) development, (5) scale-up, (6) launch, and (7) post-launch. “But innovation is not a linear path—not just A, then B, then C,” says Dierberger. “It’s the adjustments you make after you’ve developed the product that determines your success. And it’s learning lessons from testing on real customers to make the final ‘tweaks’—changing the price points, improving the benefits statement on the packaging, and sharpening the advertising appeals.”



In the case of the 3M Greptile Grip golf glove, countless other examples of these adjustments appeared. Mike Kuhl, marketing coordinator at 3M, points out, “Consumer testing labs said the information on the back of our package was incomplete so we had dozens of golfers hit drives using our glove and competitive gloves to compare driving distance.” And says 3M packaging engineer Travis Strom, “Our first glove package ‘pillowed’—bulked up—on the shelf, had hard-to-read text, and wasn’t appealing to golfers, so we had to redesign it. After all, you only have a few seconds to capture the customer’s attention with the package and make a sale.”

In 2005, 3M Golf launched a premium golf glove consisting of the highest quality Cabretta leather and selling for a suggested retail price of $16.95 to $19.95. On the drawing board: 3M Greptile Grip golf tape that can be applied to golf club grips and possibly a line of Greptile Grip golf grips to double the gripping power when used in conjunction with the Greptile Grip golf glove. In 2006, 3M launched versions of its Greptile Grip golf gloves in Japan and Europe, the second and third largest golf markets behind the U.S. Finally, 3M may develop and market baseball and softball batting gloves using the Greptile material in 2006 if the manufacturing and channels for golf gloves can been augmented.

Companies can learn from this example, setting Goals or Product Criteria will help company design a marketing roadmap.

“Marketing is not brain surgery,” says Dr. George Dierberger, Marketing and International Manager of 3M’s Sports and Leisure Products Project. “We tend to make it a lot more difficult than it is. 3M wins with its technology. We’re not in the ‘me-too’ business and in marketing we’ve got to remember that.”

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YouSigma. (2008). "3M’s New Product Process." From

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