February 9, 2023

Understanding the Product Development Process in China

Are you thinking of developing a new product in China? Well, hold on to your hats buddies because you're in for a wild ride! 

The product development process in China can be a bit of a maze but fear not. With a little bit of know-how, you'll be navigating it like a pro in no time.

First things first - let's talk numbers!

At a press conference, Hu Wenhui - deputy head of the National Intellectual Property Administration, said; 

"In 2022, China filed for 798,000 patents, and the total number of valid invention patents hold by China are 4.21 million - making it the world's first ever country to hold more than 3 million valid invention patents."

This is why developing a product in China is a great idea. With the country's resources and massive intellectual property portfolio, you can be sure your product will be well-protected.

But this huge market comes with fierce competition, so it's important to ensure your product stands out.

That's where understanding the product development process comes in. 

It's crucial to know the ins and outs of the process to ensure your product is up to snuff and ready to hit the market. 

But don't worry - we'll break it down for you step-by-step!

So, sit back, relax, and let's dive into understanding the 8-stage product development process in China.

For those who prefer video content, here’s a video summary of what you’re about to read below.

Understanding the 8-Stage Product Development Process in China

You can think of the product development process in China as an 8 stage journey. Each step along the way is essential to ensure your product meets all the necessary standards and is ready to hit the market. 

Let's take a look at each of these stages in more detail. 

Stage-1: Idea Generation:

This is the first and arguably most important stage in the product development process. 

In simple words - this is where the magic begins!

The idea for your product could come from anywhere – a light bulb moment in the shower, a customer complaint, or even a market hole that you've spotted. 

Whatever the case, it's important to start with a solid idea.

But don't just follow any idea that popped into your head - do detailed market research!

Market research is a life-saver in this stage. You need to know your target market inside and out.

  • Who is your targeted audience? 

  • What do they want? 

  • What are their pain points? 

This information will help you tailor your product to their needs and make sure it's something they'll actually want to buy. 

A Tip:

It's also a good idea to get feedback from potential customers at this stage to see if your idea is a hit or a miss.

Another important thing to remember is to make sure your product is unique and different from what's already on the market. 

After all, who wants to be just another me-too product? 

So, this stage is all about generating a solid idea and doing your homework to ensure it'll fly off the shelves.

Stage 2: Concept Development:

Now that you have your idea, it's time to turn it into a reality. Concept development is all about fine-tuning and fleshing out your idea. 

This is where you start getting into the nitty-gritty of your product. You'll need to figure out things like size, shape, and materials. And if you're developing a physical product, you'll also need to consider packaging. 

During this phase, you start seeing your product take shape, which is exciting!

The Right Way:

But what if you only have a basic idea and don't know how to develop the concept from there?

No problem! 

Always consult with experts - such as product designers, engineers, and market researchers- to ensure your product is up to scratch.

A Tip:

Make sure you're doing your due diligence in terms of market research and design because this stage is crucial for the success of your product. 

Stage 3: Finding a Suitable Manufacturing Partner in China:

It's the most overlooked and underrated stage of the entire product development process. 

Most business owners or product managers think that any product manufacturer in China can do the job. 

But it's not true!

Finding a suitable manufacturing partner is extremely important as they'll be responsible for producing a quality product that meets your standards and deadlines.

The Tricky Part:

It can be a tricky task, as there are a lot of scammers and fake manufacturers in the market.

You'll want to consider cost, quality, and production capabilities during this stage when selecting a manufacturing partner. 

You should also visit the factory and meet with the management team to ensure they have the experience and expertise to produce your product.

The Right Strategy:

But suppose you have shortlisted several potential manufacturers in different parts of China - do you have time to visit them? 

Even if you have time, it's not feasible to travel all the way to China - especially when the success is not confirmed!

Then what to do?

The answer is simple - find a reliable sourcing partner in China, like MorphoMFG, who can take hold of this tedious process on your behalf and help you find the best possible manufacturing partner. 

These sourcing partners have local knowledge and contacts that can give you an insider's view of the industry and help you select the right manufacturing partner for your product. 

Want to know more about finding a reliable sourcing company in China - Read our latest blog post!

Latest Blog Post: Professional Sourcing Agent Guangzhou China

Stage-4: Prototyping:

Now it's time to convert your conceptual ideas into a physical product. It can be done via 3D printing, CNC machining, and injection molding.

Incorporating a sense of humor - it's like your product is a movie and prototyping is the trailer. It gives you a sneak peek of what's to come and lets you know if it's worth investing time and money in the final product. 

And that's the reason why we previously insisted on finding a suitable manufacturer because we don't want you to end up with a trailer that no one wants to watch!

Why is this step important?

Well, for starters, it allows you to test the functionality and design of your product. You can make sure all the pieces fit together correctly and that it does what it's supposed to do. 

Plus, it's a great way to get feedback from potential customers and make any necessary adjustments before mass production.

The Best Moment:

Let's be real. It's exciting to finally hold your product in your hands and see all your hard work come to life. It's like Christmas morning for product development enthusiasts.

Related: An Ultimate Prototype Product Development Guide

Stage-5: Testing and Incorporating Changes:

At this stage, you put your product through its paces to make sure it's functioning as it should.

You'll need to test for things like durability, reliability, and user experience. This is also where you'll identify any bugs or issues and work to fix them. 

Do You Know?

According to a study by the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA), "The new product development (NPD) activities have an average failure rate of 40% due to lack of validation from customers or market research." 

This highlights the importance of validating your product before moving to mass production. 

So, what about incorporating changes?

Once you have a prototype in hand, you can reach out to some of your potential customers to get their feedback. You can also use surveys and interviews to understand what features people like or dislike about your product.

Based on that feedback, you can decide whether to incorporate changes or stick with the original design.

A Tip:

Make sure the changes you are incorporating are truly worth it. Keep in mind that each change will mean additional costs and time. 

So, if it doesn't add value to your product - skip it.

Stage-6: Mass Production:

Now is the time when all of the hard work from the previous stages comes to fruition. 

At this stage, your product moves from prototype to actual production, and you're one step closer to launching your product.

Don't Forget:

Before starting the assembly line, it's crucial to ensure everything is in order. This means checking and double-checking the product design, materials, and manufacturing process to ensure they meet the necessary quality standards. 

It's also important to have a solid plan to handle any potential issues that may arise during mass production.

The Hidden Side:

Most fake manufacturers in China will dupe you in the name of mass production. They first deliver a high-quality prototype, and once you pay for your mass production order, they significantly reduce your product quality.

The Solution:

You can't predict how a manufacturer will behave until you are done with your first batch. 

But what if your first batch isn't up to the mark?

You will lose a huge chunk of your investment - and of course, your time!

To prevent such scenarios, you must partner with a contract manufacturer like MorphoMFG. They have already shortlisted some of the best manufacturers by conducting several pilot runs and quality tests. 

Interested in finding a trusted contract manufacturer in China - Read our recent blog post!

Recent Blog Post: Chinese Contract Manufacturer - 5 Tips to Find the Right One

Stage-7: Quality Check:

The most important step before launching your product is to ensure that the final version meets all quality standards. This includes running tests for potential safety issues, verifying the product meets regulations and ensuring the materials meet quality standards. 

Avoid This:

Companies mostly rely on their manufacturers for the quality check process. But relying on your manufacturer for the quality check is a big mistake.

You should hire a third-party QC service provider to inspect your product and verify it's up to the mark.

By doing this, you can ensure your product quality before delivery.

The Easiest Way:

What if we tell you that you don't need to hire a separate QC team anymore? 

Remember we discussed partnering with a contract manufacturer earlier?

Well, guess what - they also have experienced QC staff to conduct several quality checks during your product development process.

By doing this, you can save a lot of time - avoid hiring a separate service provider for every task.

Are you confused about outsourcing the quality control project to China?

Worry Not! 

We have developed a detailed blog post for you on this topic.

Related Blog Post: Outsourcing Manufacturing - Maintaining Quality Control in China

Step-8: Product Shipping:

Finally, the moment you have been waiting for - your product is ready to be shipped to the world.

Product shipping is all about getting your product from the factory to your stores or customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. This includes arranging transportation, handling customs clearance, and coordinating customer delivery.

Important Note:

When it comes to shipping your product, it's important to have a reliable logistics management partner. They can help ensure that your product is shipped in a timely and efficient manner and is delivered to your customers in perfect condition.

Why are we saying this?

Don't forget shipping is a critical stage in the product development process, and it's important to pay attention to every detail.

A shipping delay can cause many problems for your business - resulting in customer dissatisfaction, increased costs, and poor product reputation.

Your contract manufacturer will also be your logistics management partner who can help you navigate the complexities of international shipping, including customs clearance, tariffs, and regulations. 

They can also provide you with tracking and delivery confirmation so that you can keep an eye on your product during transit.

All you need to do is just sit back and let them handle the rest. 

To complete this process hassle-free, you should have detailed knowledge about import agents in China - For this, check our recent blog post!

Recent Blog Post: Top 7 Benefits to Hire a China Import Agent in 2023

That's it - your product is now in your hands and ready to be launched. 

Find Out How MorphoMFG Can Assist You in the Product Development Process in China

Handling the entire product development process on your own can be challenging, especially if you're new to the industry or if you're not familiar with the Chinese market. 

MorphoMFG can help you with every process step, including market research, product design, prototyping, manufacturing, testing, shipping, and more. 

Our team of experienced product development experts can help you avoid costly mistakes - save money, time, and resources. 

We have a comprehensive network of manufacturers across China who can provide quality products - Yes, at competitive prices - Of course! 

A Key Point to Consider:

Now, you might wonder, why can't I do all this alone?

Well, you can!

If you have a good understanding of the Chinese market, have experience in the product development process and have a team of experts. Then you can handle the whole process by yourself.

But think again - Will you be able to manage the sales, marketing, and other aspects of your business simultaneously?

The honest answer is - No.

So, don't compromise with your business - Schedule a call with us now and let MorphoMFG take care of the whole product development process. 

We are sure you will be glad about your decision! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Product Development Process in China Cheap?

China is no longer cheaper - It's affordable!

You must clarify that China is no longer home to cheap conventional products. The manufacturing sector is much more mature now. And moving forward with the "Made in China 2025" plan, the country is investing more in technological manufacturing sectors. So the products are becoming more sophisticated and feature-rich according to global standards.

The Truth:

Suppose you are the one looking for high-quality, innovative products. In that case, China is the place to go - prices are extremely competitive compared to other countries like the U.S., Germany, Japan, and Canada. 

But if you need cheaper products - consider exploring countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, or India.

These countries are at the beginning of their manufacturing era.

The Right Way:

You should have a proper understanding of China's product development process, including an approximate budget idea. 

If you don't know how much your custom product manufacturing will cost in China - Check our detailed pricing guide.

What is an Average Product Development Timeline in China?

The timeline for developing a product in China depends on factors such as complexity, design specifications, quantity ordered, and manufacturing location. 

On average, it takes 8-12 weeks to develop a product from scratch - But this timeline can vary depending on the product and its design.

Important Point:

We can quote any specific timeline as we don't know your product requirements.

But you should know that ODM product manufacturing is much quicker than OEM product manufacturing regarding the timeline. 

The Solution:

We know that you need an approximate idea, if not exact, of the cost and development time of your product - to plan accordingly.

So don't worry!

Share your product requirements with MorphoMFG, and we will provide you with a comprehensive product development plan, including timeline and cost estimates. Schedule a call with us now to get started! 

About the author

Josh Fairbairn

CEO of MorphoMFG, fluent in Mandarin, Blogger, and Youtuber. Josh loves interesting materials and the craftsmanship that goes into creating innovative products - watches, tech, games, whisky, leather, wood, blockchain & electronics. Josh and his team in Guangzhou, China are striving to create (& consume) the world’s highest quality products. Partnering with entrepreneurs globally to help solve the world's problems - whether small or large.

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