Why is new product development such an important part of business success? More importantly, who do companies rely upon to make it happen? Well, successful product introductions allow businesses to capture market share and grow sales. When companies look to have a successful product introduction, they turn to the expertise of the “Product Planner”. Successful product planners must be able to multi-task, have the intestinal fortitude to ride the ups and downs of both success and failure and constantly be cognizant of the company’s ultimate goal of a successful product launch.
Essential to success is the ability to conceptualize ideas and have the follow through capabilities to seem them mature. There are always setbacks, but the best planners never allow those setbacks to impede their product’s commercialization. In today’s business environment, a successful product introduction is essential to increasing a company’s market share and growing its sales. It’s this process that allows companies to increase profit and reinvest in new product development. New products mean more sales, happier customers and more growth. It’s a continuous feedback loop and its success relies upon the expertise and abilities of product planners and managers who are able to identify and capitalize on opportunities. A company’s future growth relies upon the product planner’s abilities to control costs, increase gross profit, drive business development and constantly improve new product introductions.
Product Planner Job Responsibilities
Product planners spend a large amount of time and their company’s money on market research. This is done to make sure the product’s application is both timely and needed by the market’s customers. In this sense, the best planners don’t concern themselves with being market followers or leaders, but must first concentrate their efforts on being market experts. Understanding the market is essential to determining whether the product’s introduction will be a successful one and when that introduction should occur. Timing is everything for the product planner!
Product planners must also be product life-cycle experts and understand the four stages of a product’s useful life within the market to which it’s sold. A successful product planner manages the product’s success through these four stages and maximizes growth and gross profit at each stage. There’s the introduction stage, the growth stage, the maturity stage and the decline stage. Each of these stages requires an in-depth understanding of the various costs, market approaches and pricing strategies to maximize profit and increase or maintain market share.
They must also be product lifecycle experts and manage the products life within the company itself, from inception and design to prototype and full scale manufacturing. They must be able to manage all aspects of the design and engineering phase, constantly mitigating delays on testing and approvals, all the while keeping a watchful eye on product development costs and timelines to market introduction. They must be able to properly manage the product’s growth through these phases until the initial market introduction and eventual commercialization. In essence, product planners are responsible for the entire product introduction process and are often seen as the pivotal players in new business development.
Product Planner Training and Education Requirements
Most product planners need only a bachelor’s degree in business administration to get started. These degrees provide the essential foundation needed to understand market influencers, the essence of advertising as well as the importance of accounting and business cost management in managing budgets. However, a number of universities and business schools are now offering “Executive Education” in product management or MBA’s in product management. A higher education allows product planners to assume higher positions and helps to improve their career advancement opportunities.
Product Planner Salary and Wages
Because the product planner is responsible for so much of a new product’s success, they often garner a considerable compensation package. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of the product planners earn between $64,390.00 and $108,710.00 annually. The top 90% earn over $140,000.00 annually. Compensation packages typically include a base salary, as well as a bonus and incentive structure relative to the product’s success. They may also include a percentage of the profit derived by the product’s sales.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Product Planner Certifications
There are several certifications for product planners. In some cases the bachelor’s degree offered by many universities often specifies a concentration in product management and planning. In addition, MBA’s now specialize in product management. However, additional product planning certifications include a certification as a CPM (Certified Product Manager), a CPMM (Certified Product Marketing Manager) as well as an ACPM (Agile Certified Product Manager). Each of these certifications include in-depth studies and exams on business case studies, market research & risk assessment, competitive analysis as well as stage gate management processes relative to the product’s development phase.
Product Planner Professional Associations
Perhaps the most recognized product planner association is the AIPMM (Association of International Product Marketing and Management) as well as the PDMA (Product Development and Management Association). Both of these associations provide their members insight into industry trends, employer requirements and courses on upgrading one’s skill set. These associations provide intensive coverage on all aspects of product planning and management. They offer courses, books, information on conferences and an opportunity to chart one’s career development.