Today, we are going to discuss exactly what makes a new product just that — a new product. And by “discuss”, I mean that I will write a (semi) long rant about it and maybe even get a comment or two.
I’m taking on this subject inspired by my current Facebook status that reads: “Jimmy Röstlund still amused and amazed that new colorways for BMX parts are considered “new products” for some companies…”
A few hours after posting that status I started to think a little about what actually constitutes a new product. Is it really enough to change a color or two and then you magically, with minimum to no effort, have a “new” product to offer? In my opinion — no!
To me, a new product is preceeded by some considerable time of development and design rather than just randomly flipping through your set of Pantone swatches picking some pretty colors. This old thing you want to sell can’t just be dipped in a different bucket of paint and instantly be considered completely new when really, the only thing that has changed is how the spectrum of light is dispersed and/or absorbed by the surface of the item — by means of applying a coat of a color compound developed and sold by someone else. Undoubtedly, this must be enough to count as a full time job, right?
Technically, from the view of handling stock, a new color could be considered a new product since it has to take up a new stock code I can hear some people say to this. Although a color option is something that would be more likely to be defined by a sub-category in a stock handling system and therefore not a product on its own, just as left or right hand drive specific hubs or cranks are different versions of the same product.
I don’t see, for example, car manufacturers referring to their different color options as separate products. Hell, not even the different options for engine/extras/interior are said to make it a separate product. You have a make, a model and options within the model category. Easy as that.
So what about t-shirt companies? Are all their tees “old products” since the concept of a t-shirt has already been around for so long? Not really. For a t-shirt it is the print that matters. Which means that every new print can be called a new product. If the same print is offered in different colors or printed on different color tees — that is the definition of a variation. The same goes for bike parts — if the color changes, it is a colorway, not a new product in itself.
I think I’ve made my point, but here’s the conclusion:
Offer as many different colors of your products as you like. But don’t flatter yourself and call the most recent colorway “a new product” — not even when this new colorway is offered mid-season or in limited numbers.