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Creating Successful New Products: Challenges for Indian Industry
, Ganesh N Prabhu
Published in Elsevier BV
Pages: 1 - 21

In the increasingly competitive environment in India, the development and launch of new products have become an important competitive tool. In a crowded marketplace, there is greater need for differentiation; in markets that tend to be stagnant there is pressure to create excitement. The development and launch of new products helps in both situations. In certain industries like the two wheeler industry, new product development has become critical to survival. Stringent new emission standards and multi-point competition are pushing two wheeler companies to broaden their product lines and introduce new technologies such as four stroke scooters and mopeds. Today, the Indian two wheeler industry has more than fifty models/variants with one or two new launch announcements every month. Such developments are happening in other industries as well, though perhaps not as visibly as in the two wheeler industry. This paper is prompted by our belief that there are unique problems faced by Indian companies in rapidly developing a new product development capability. While the new product development challenges faced by large, established firms in developed markets have received considerable attention in recent years since the publication of the epochal The machine that changed the world (Womack, Jones and Roos, 1990), the problems faced by 'emerging market companies' are different and have not received enough attention. Emerging markets like India are different from developed markets. Emerging markets are often characterised by specific local needs, limited purchasing power and high price sensitivity (Prahalad and Lieberthal, 1998). Khanna and Palepu (1997) have suggested that in emerging economies, to make up for the absence of well-developed markets for labor and capital, firms may have to create their own infrastructure. There are thus contextual factors which can potentially influence an important strategic activity like new product development in the emerging market context and make the challenges before companies in these markets different from those in established economies. Specifically, unlike established companies in developed markets, Indian companies are facing the challenge of structuring, ab initio, the new product development process in an environment of limited design skills and experience, few qualified vendors and inappropriate engineering resources. At the same time, they are constrained by limited financial and human resources, a lack of a market orientation, strong centralized control by business family heads, functional chimneys without deep functional expertise, and pressures to change on numerous fronts all at once to cope with the competitive environment. Further, over the last eight years, the complexity of strategy formulation and implementation has increased manifold - from merely obtaining an industrial license and preventing others from doing so, to managing growth, cost-competitiveness, knowledge, innovation, and business portfolios simultaneously in a globally competitive environment. In this paper, our focus will be on the challenges in new product development faced by companies in India, an important emerging economy. Our ideas are based on discussions we have had with managers involved in new product development in about twenty Indian companies, reports in the business press and some projects undertaken by our students. At the end, we identify questions that remain either partly or fully unanswered in the hope that these can be the subject of research for Indian companies, consultants advising them, and researchers. Most of the issues discussed in this paper have their origins in the problems faced by Indian companies manufacturing discrete, engineered goods for either consumer or industrial markets. However, we will also discuss some of the challenges faced by Indian companies manufacturing fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), and by Indian firms involved in information technology/software product development.

About the journal
JournalData powered by TypesetSSRN Electronic Journal
PublisherData powered by TypesetElsevier BV
Open AccessYes