Husk Power Systems: Product Launch Strategy Planning

Introduction

Husk Power Systems is a start-up renewable energy firm that has its headquarters in Bihar State, the eastern part of India. Gynesh Pandey, Ratnesh Yadav, and Manoj Sinha identified a gap in this market, especially in the rural parts of the country. According to Husk Power Systems (2020), about 400 million Indians are not connected to the national grid and are forced to use traditional methods of lighting their homes, which poses numerous health risks. They developed a concept of using risk husks, a common waste product across the country, especially in rural parts of India where farming is one of the main economic activities, to produce electricity. They realized that by burning these husks, they could transform the chemical energy stored in them into useful electric energy that these locals need for lighting and other domestic use. The company has achieved success in its initial years of operation because of the market gap and the support from the government. The growth of the number of people that use its services has been consistent over the past few years. In its effort to diversify the product portfolio and increase revenues, the company introduced a portable power system that can be used anywhere within the country and be exported to international markets. In this part of the project, the primary focus was to discuss the product launch strategy and planning.

The New Product

When planning to launch a new product in the market, Kampira (2018) explains that the first step is to define the product itself in clear terms. Husk Power Systems has introduced a portable power generation system that can be used in a wide range of areas. It is important to note that the core business of the firm is to produce electricity in large quantities using rice husks, create its grid in the rural eastern part of India, and connect villagers to this grid. However, this new product is stand-alone small scale gasification & electrical power production mobile unit (Laubner et al., 2018). It competes with gasoline generators in terms of portability and the amount of power it produces. The only difference is that instead of using gasoline, it uses rice husks to produce power. Figure 1 below is the image of this new product that the company seeks to launch in the domestic market. One of the main benefits of this system that makes it superior to other small and portable electricity generators is that it is environmentally friendly because it uses renewable sources.

The portable power source model 
Figure 1. The portable power source model 

The rationale of the Product Launch

Husk Power Systems has been successful with its primary product of mass production of electricity using rice husks. It would be assumed that the management would focus on a rapid expansion of this service across India as a way of increasing its revenues. However, it is planning to launch a new product that is yet to gain popularity both locally and in the international market. It is important to understand the rationale of introducing the new product and its significance in enhancing its sustainable growth. According to Golder and Mitra (2018), one of the best ways through which a firm can realize sustainability in its development is to expand its product portfolio. This approach helps a firm in spreading its risks and increasing its revenues in the market. Although the renewable power production and supply segment of the firm is generally successful, it is necessary to expand the range of products that the firm offers. The portable power source can be produced in mass and sold both in the local and international markets. As such, this new product will offer the company a unique capacity to explore foreign markets as an exporter. Besides increasing the firm’s revenues, the new product will help the company to strengthen its brand nationally and in the global market. The investment is worth making, especially for an ambitious start-up company that is keen on improving its revenues.

Milestones

Husk Power System has an ambitious project that is set to generate considerable income if it is a success. The portable renewable power model, if successful, will offer this firm a perfect opportunity to expand to the global market and compete favorably with other multinational corporations in the energy sector. It is important to discuss the milestones in this project. As Brennan (2019) advises, it is often essential to explain why each milestone task was included in the project plan and its significance to keeping the project on track to deliver planned benefits.

Milestone Tasks Completed

The new product has gone through most parts of the product development stages, from idea conception to product development. As the team plans for the launch of the product in the market, it is essential to discuss milestones that have been completed to have a better understanding of what still needs to be done. The section should also explain why each of the activities in the milestone is essential for the success of the project.

Product definition, development, and testing

One of the major milestones already completed in this project is product development and definition. The production department, working closely with the finance and procurement departments, has developed a unique product meant for both the local and international markets. The item is clearly defined as a portable generator that uses rice husks to produce electrical energy. The team has tested the product and confirmed that it is capable of meeting the expectations of customers.

Market identification and initial research

The marketing department has already conducted initial research in India to assess the potential of the product to achieve success. During the initial market research, the team identified a gap in the market. Almost all the portable generators currently available in India use gasoline. The level of noise and air pollution associated with these gasoline generators makes them unsuitable in various contexts (Banfield et al., 2017). As such, Husks Power Systems generator will occupy a unique niche in the market.

Identification of potential partners in the market

The team has identified some potential partners in the Indian market that it can work with to ensure that the product reaches the target market. Some of these partners include leading supermarkets and general stores that stock a wide range of generators. The firm has already developed an approach that can be used to convince these retailers to stock the new product.

Identification of product positioning

It is the role and responsibility of the marketing department to identify the appropriate positioning strategy of the product. The portable generator has been positioned as an environmentally friendly, easy to operate, and cost-effective generator. Customers are assured that, unlike other products, this one will not pollute their environment. They will also benefit from its ease of use and low running cost.

Milestone Tasks to Be Completed

The management of this company has some milestone tasks that are yet to be completed and they will define the level of success of the launch. Most of these milestones should be completed by the marketing department. However, it is important to note that other departments, especially the production department, finance department, and procurement and logistics department all have a major role to play in enhancing the success of the product launch strategy and planning. The following are the major milestones to be completed.

Setting launch date

The team is yet to set the appropriate date for the launch. According to Golder and Mitra (2018), when planning to introduce a new product in the market, it is critical to set an appropriate day that the management feels would enable the firm to reach as wide an audience as possible. The date should be set after identifying and signing contracts with retailers and other entities that will facilitate the process of making the product available for customers in the national market.

Targeting the international market

The management has identified parts of Africa as potential markets besides India. However, the marketing department is yet to develop a clear plan on how it seeks to enter the international market. Brennan (2019) explains that direct exportation is often an effective but expensive strategy for exploring new markets. Because of the uniqueness of the product that the firm offers, this will be the most desirable approach that it should use.

Pricing and packaging

The finance, procurement, logistics, and production departments have developed an accurate unit cost for the generator. However, it is now the responsibility of the marketing department to set a competitive price and develop suitable packaging for the product. Kampira (2018) argues that setting low prices for the product may make customers feel that it is of low quality. On the other hand, when the prices are too high, some potential customers may not afford to purchase the product. The price should cover the total cost of production and create profits for the firm. The marketing unit will need to work closely with other departments within the firm to set an appropriate price for the product.

Sales strategy and training

The management is yet to set an appropriate sales strategy. As Marcolongo (2017) notes, the process should start with the training of the staff. They should understand the unique attributes of the product to be able to explain it to the customers. They also have to understand what customers expect both in the local and international markets. The management should choose whether it will use its sales representatives or third parties to promote the sale of its products.

Customer management plan

Another major milestone activity that the organization will need to address is having a customer management plan. When introducing such a product to the market, it is essential to have a plan on how to address various issues that will emerge (Banfield et al., 2017). For instance, customers may have complaints about the product. The company should put in place systems that can respond to such concerns.

Gantt Chart

It is important to develop a Gantt chart that identifies a list of tasks and milestones for each. As shown in Table 2 below, some milestone activities have been completed while others are yet to be addressed. Product definition, development, and testing have already been done. The team has also identified the market, conducted initial research, and is in the process of finalizing the appropriate product positioning approach for the generator. Another milestone that has been achieved is the identification of local partners who can help make the product accessible to customers all over the country. The firm should now focus on the other remaining activities. It is necessary to develop appropriate packaging for the product and set appropriate market. The sales team should also be adequately trained and a strategy for marketing the product in the country developed. It is also crucial to have an effective customer management plan to respond to various issues that are expected to emerge once the product is commercialized in the local market. When these milestones are realized, the final stage will be the launch of the product, which is expected to be done on December 2, 2020.

Table 2: Gantt chart

Activity/timeline Sep 1-Dec 15 2019 Jan 1-Mar 16 2020 Mar 20-May 19 2020 June 20-Aug 16 2020 Sep 12-Oct 28 2020 Dec 2, 2020
Product development & testing
Market identification, research, & positioning
Identification of potential partners
Packaging, pricing, sales strategy & training
Develop a customer management plan
Launch the product

Stakeholders

The product launch strategy and planning project will only be a success if different stakeholders play their respective roles effectively. Using the stakeholder analysis technique, it is necessary to assess the roles that they will play and how they should be monitored in the project. According to Golder and Mitra (2018), when conducting a stakeholders’ analysis, one of the first steps is to always identify the specific stakeholders and their roles. They include the executive staff, sales, and marketing staff, procurement and logistics staff, finance staff, production staff, IT staff, customers, the government, and the community. The stakeholders should then be classified into four classes based on the power-interest grid model shown in figure 2 below to determine how they should be managed.

Power-interest grid for classification of customers 
Figure 2. Power-interest grid for classification of customers 

In the first quadrant are the powerful and highly interested stakeholders. They have the capacity to define the path of the organization and have the desire to do so. The executive staff falls in this category. They should be managed closely, always ensuring that they remain interested in the success of the project. Customers also fall in this category because they are interested in the topic, and they have the power to choose whether to purchase the product from the firm or rivals in the market. The second quadrant has highly interested stakeholders but is less powerful. They include all the staff of the company (sales and marketing staff, procurement staff, logistics staff, finance staff, production staff, and IT staff). They may not have the power to make critical decisions in the project, but their input is critical. They know that their job security is related to the success of the project. They should be kept informed of any changes that take place in the project.

The third quadrant has stakeholders with high power but low interest in the product. Government falls in this important category of stakeholders. It has the capacity to stop the company from implementing the project. However, it does not have any direct interest in the project as long as the company follows the set laws and regulations in its operations. The focus of this company will be to keep the government satisfied. The last category has stakeholders with low power and low interest in the project. The local community (who are not part of the firm’s customers) falls in this class. They may not influence the operations of the firm directly. However, it is necessary to ensure that they are monitored. Their views about the company’s brand and products may have an indirect impact on the progress of the project.

Project Charter

It is important to develop a project charter that will describe this project in its entirety. It provides a snapshot of all fundamental factors in the project. Table 1 below shows the project charter.

Table 1: Project Charter

Project Name Husk Power Systems’ Portable Power Generator
Developed By: Name: Date May 15, 2020
Project Sponsor Husk Power Systems
Mission The mission of the project is to launch the new portable renewable energy generator in the market. The management must ensure that the product is successful in the market.
Scope
  • To successfully launch the renewable energy generator in the local Indian market
  • To engage in awareness campaigns about the product’s brand and its products in the market
  • To manage the quality of the product made available in the market based on feedback from customers.
Deliverables
  • Portable power generator
Stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities Project sponsor- provide funds needed to support various activities needed for the launch of the project
Project manager- guides members in undertaking various activities in the project. Be the link between project members and the top managers of the company.
Assumptions
  • The management of Husk Power System is committed to funding this project
  • Project members have the needed knowledge and skills
  • The executive management is open to the introduction of changes that can lower the cost of the project or improve the level of success
Risks
  • The emergence of another major project that may force the management to reduce the budget of this project
  • The inability of the team members to deliver the expected level of performance
  • Macro-economic challenges attributed to the outbreak of the current COVID-19 pandemic
Communication The success of this project will depend on effective communication among different stakeholders. The project manager will ensure that members can easily communicate their ideas and challenges they encounter during the implementation process. It is also the responsibility of the manager to communicate with the top management on relevant issues.
Project schedule and Milestones Proposed start date: June 1, 2020
Proposed end date: August 30, 2020
Major Milestones
  • Product developed and tested
  • Product position identified
  • Initial market research identified and potential partners identified
  • Project team members identified

Framework for Developing the New Product

The portable power source is set to revolutionize sales of this company in the market. It will enable the company to explore new markets beyond the rural eastern part of India. The team has gone through the process of developing a generator that uses rice husks instead of gasoline to produce energy. The focus is to develop an effective plan that would facilitate launching the product in the market. The following are some of the major areas of focus that should be considered when commercializing the product.

Quality Management Approach

When the new product is introduced to the market, one of the factors that the management should observe is quality management. As expected, other companies will soon copy the idea and develop similar products for local and international markets. According to Laubner et al. (2018), stealing concepts is a common practice in China, and this firm should be ready to deal with rival firms producing the same product soon after making an entry into the market. Maintaining a flow of superior products to the market may give it an edge over these rivals. The best approach to managing quality is to have an effective customer feedback mechanism and regularly adjust the product based on the information they get.

Quality Tools and Techniques

It will be necessary to have quality tools and techniques. The best tool that the company should consider using to enhance quality is a check sheet. It involves outlining all the current weaknesses of the product based on the feedback from customers and the company’s research. Once they are identified, the next step is to take appropriate actions to address these weaknesses. The process can only be considered a success if all the issues outlined are addressed adequately. All the stakeholders identified above should be granted an opportunity to share their views on how these weaknesses can be addressed.

Project Methodology

It is necessary for the management of Husk Power System to embrace a specific methodology in this project. The most appropriate method for the project is agile development. First, this method fits into the company’s culture of creativity and innovativeness. The method also fits the scope of work that should be done to facilitate the commercialization of the product, especially in terms of the time frame of activities as shown in the Gantt chart above. It starts with developing the first function then integrating and testing it. The rest of the functions would follow the same pattern. The goal is to ensure that before the project focuses on a new function, the previous one should have been tested and integrated. The team should then release the prototype of the product. It should then conduct test marketing to get the views of customers (Marcolongo, 2017). Relevant changes should be made based on the outcome of test marketing. The system should be tested to ensure that it can support the launch without breaking down. When all functionalities are completed, the team should launch the product, and if not, the next phase of alteration would begin. As shown in the project plan, the sprint interval timing should be about two months. Figure 3 below is an image of an agile development method.

Agile development 
Figure 3: Agile development 

Summary

Husk Power Systems is an emerging company in the renewable energy sector. The management is in the process of introducing a new product, a portable power source, in the local and international market. The product uses rice husks to generate electricity, unlike other generators that use gasoline. In this section of the paper, a detailed discussion has been provided of the best approach that it should use to ensure that it will have a successful launch of this revolutionary product.

References

Banfield, R., Eriksson, M., & Walkingshaw, N. (2017). Product leadership: How top product managers create and launch successful products. O’Reilly.

Brennan, K. (2019). Mastering product management: A step-by-step guide. Wiley.

Golder, P. N., & Mitra, D. (Eds.). (2018). Handbook of research on new product development. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Husk Power Systems. (2020). About us. Web.

Kampira, A. (2018). Feasibility studies: New product development and launch. Afregarde Strategies Ltd.

Laubner, U., Brunner, K., Lemser, F., & Lopes, E. (2018). Powerful communication for product manager: Set the stage for reliable market facts and successful collaboration. Books on Demand GmbH.

Marcolongo, M. (2017). Academic entrepreneurship: How to bring your scientific discovery to a successful commercial product. John Wiley & Sons.

Modrow, S. (2018). Involving the question of utility for the design of structured equity products in the wealth management market. München GRIN Verlag.