The Product Prototype
A product prototype is an early version of the final product. You may have heard it referred to as a product in its beta stage, for example. It is a version that is still being tested for its efficiency and user design. The user design factor can be tested by how potential users react to the product.
The product prototype does not have to come in one form only.
The most popular form is the limited usage product that potential consumers can directly test. Their evaluations and recommendations can be directly applied to the product prototype.
However, there may be other variations in form, such as a 3D printing version. It can be merely a model or a working one with 3D gears and bolts. When presenting the prototype, the company should be clear about what they are showing
A digital product prototype can also exist. The digital format may have been chosen based on two factors. One, a digital product is being promoted. You may receive prototype versions of software apps, for example. You get an idea of how it will work, but it may not have all the functions yet. Two, it can be a rendering of how the product will look like. Herein, only the esthetics are focused on. Is it attractive enough? Is it too big or too small – or just right?
So, why is a product prototype essential to a product launch?
- It inspires a more accurate evaluation by potential consumers because it is a simulation of the future final product. It is not just a pitch. The visuals are clear, and the potential consumers can even hold it (in terms of physical prototypes) or test its functions (in terms of digital prototypes).
- It can boost future sales if the prototype is successful because people have seen what it could be like. Some will get excited about the possibilities. If the prototype is already an excellent rendering of the final product, then how much more will the real thing benefit them?
- It encourages a wealth of recommendations and discussion. This can help make the product even better because the recommendations are made after having seen an actual version and not just a pitch of description.
- It can provide useful insights to the manufacturers and/or developers. They will know what aspects of the prototype works, and which ones have to be improved.
- It highlights a shared vision among all the stakeholders. Everyone can see if the ideas that they have agreed on have been put forward.
- It creates a buzz about the product. People are more likely to talk about something that they better understand.
So, yes, a product prototype is vital to improving your product launch and sales. Before you even launch the actual product, people would have been talking about it already. Some have been anticipating and saving money for the launch. The prototype, however, should be as close to the intended final version as possible.