Commercialization or commercialisation is the process of introducing a new product or production method into commerce—making it available on the market. The term often connotes especially the entrance into the mass market as opposed to earlier niche markets, but it also includes a move from the laboratory into even limited commerce. Many technologies begin in a research and development laboratory or inventor's workshop and are not practical for commercial use in their infancy (as prototypes). The development segment of the research and development spectrum requires time and money as systems are engineered that will make the product or method a paying commercial proposition. The launch of a new product is the final stage of new product development and the one where advertising, sales promotion, and other marketing efforts encourage commercial adoption of the product or method. Beyond commercialization (in which technologies enter the business world) can lie consumerization (in which they become consumer goods, as when computers went from the laboratory to the enterprise and then to the home, pocket, or body).
As the commercialization process in the high-tech industries begins with basic scientific or technical research, often involving the awarding of patents, it can take a long time to realize the value of the products. Product innovation and new product development, on the other hand, focus on the development of entirely new products that exploit existing products, or modify existing products in a new application. commercialization not only emphasizes product innovation, but also converts basic scientific or technical research into feasible and salable products.
The commercialization process has three key aspects:
- The funnel. It is essential to look at many ideas to get one or two products or businesses that can be sustained long-term.
- It is a stage-wise process, and each stage has its own key goals and milestones.
- It is vital to involve key stakeholders early, including customers.
Proposed commercialization of a product can raise the following questions:
- When to launch. Factors such as potential cannibalization of the sales of a vendor's other products, any requirement for further improvement of the proposed new product, or unfavorable market conditions may operate to delay a product launch.
- Where to launch. A potential vendor can start marketing in a single location, in one or several regions, or in a national or international market. Existing resources (in terms of capital, and operational capacities) and the degree of managerial confidence may strongly influence the proposed launch-mode. Smaller vendors usually launch in attractive cities or regions, while larger companies enter a national market at once.
Global roll-outs generally remain the exclusive preserve of multinational conglomerates, since they have the necessary size and make use of international distribution systems (e.g., Unilever, Procter & Gamble). Other multinationals may use the "lead-country" strategy: introducing the new product in one country/region at a time (e.g. Colgate-Palmolive).
- Whom to target. Research and test marketing may identify a primary consumer group. The ideal primary consumer group should consist of innovators, early adopters, heavy users and/or opinion leaders. This will ensure adoption by other buyers in the market during the product-growth period.
- How to launch. The prospective vendor should decide on an action plan for introducing its proposed product - plan shaped by addressing the questions above. The vendor has to develop a viable marketing-mix and to structure a corresponding marketing-budget.
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