Time-to-market (TTM) refers to the length of time between product conception and when that product finally sees the light of the day in the market.
It is the teething stage, shortening which is the prime pursuit of many companies, as it directly drives their Go-to-Market strategy and, in extension, decides whether their product offering would manage to get in the good books of the paying customer or not.
So how do companies use this gift of time to make an impression?
A shorter TTM allows the luxury of a wider time window so that businesses can grab market opportunities with both hands, stay ahead of the pack, and start generating revenue earlier than its competitors.
When a product is developed and launched quickly, it allows the company to establish a presence in the market sooner, capture the attention of potential customers, and generate early sales.
It also provides an opportunity for gathering valuable customer feedback, which can be used to improve the product or service based on real-world usage and market demands.
In short, Time-to-Market is a simple rule:
The faster your TTM, the more revenue you can generate.
MUCH THE SAME WAY THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM.
In fact, a study from McKinsey revealed that if your product is six months late to market, it earns 33% less revenue compared to a product that launched on schedule or ahead of schedule.
And Apple’s iPhone Launches makes the classic case in point.
Apple is known for its emphasis on TTM to drive its GTM strategy.
The brand aims to be the first to introduce innovative and high-demand products to the market. Apple’s ability to launch new iPhone models quickly has helped it establish a competitive edge and generate significant buzz around its products. By minimizing TTM, Apple capitalizes on consumer excitement, drives pre-orders, and creates a sense of exclusivity.
For example, the iPhone 15 model will likely release in September, 2023 and the anticipation has started building among Apple fans. The rumour mills are already running and there’s so much conjecture around the new model such as:
Will the iPhone 15 have a USB-C port?
Will Apple increase iPhone15 prices in 2023?
How many model will iPhone15 have?
Will the iPhone 15 get optimized for the Vision Pro headset?
Will it even be called the “iPhone 15”?
All this hype as well as the speed and efficiency with which Apple launches its products works to the advantage of the brand as their latest handsets are priced at a whopping sum that is infamous to cost people an arm and a leg.
Not only this, fast fashion brands such as Zara and H&M have also mastered the art of rapid TTM to support their GTM strategies. They continually monitor fashion trends and respond quickly by designing, manufacturing, and delivering new clothing collections to their stores in a matter of weeks.
For example, Zara’s latest Spring 2023 Studio collection, with campaign images shot by Steven Meisel, is full of balletcore-inspired details and maxi skirts, which have become one of the year’s most sought-after items. The collection additionally has an assortment of bags and shoes, from wooden platforms to studded shoulder bags that are a huge hit in the market.
Thus, shortening its TTM, Zara’s campaigns and collection stay ahead of its competitors, meet consumer demands for the latest fashion, and drive impulse purchases for the brand.
On the other hand, a longer TTM can result in missed market opportunities, increased competition, and potential loss of customer interest. If a company takes too long to bring a product or service to market, competitors may launch similar offerings first, gaining a competitive advantage.
Additionally, prolonged development cycles can lead to delays in generating revenue and put a strain on the company’s resources.
The fate of Nokia shows what damages a prolonged TTM is capable of.
Nokia was once a dominant player in the mobile phone market. However, the company’s slow response to the emergence of smartphones resulted in a prolonged TTM for their competitive offerings.
While Nokia focused on improving feature phones, competitors like Apple and Samsung quickly launched smartphones that revolutionized the industry. Nokia’s delayed entry into the smartphone market led to a loss of market share and significantly impacted their overall business.
Similarly, BlackBerry, a prominent player in the early smartphone market, spiralled downhill due to its delayed response to the rising popularity of touchscreen phones.
So what went wrong with Blackberry that it was edged out of the market?
BlackBerry met its end because its sole focus was on physical keyboard-equipped devices while competitors such as Apple and Android-based manufacturers started rolling out touchscreen smartphones that gained significant market traction.
BlackBerry’s extended TTM in delivering competitive touchscreen devices led to a loss of market share and impacted their position in the industry.
Therefore, minimizing the TTM is a key objective for many companies, as it directly impacts their GTM strategy and the success of their products or services in the market. It requires efficient product development processes, streamlined decision-making, effective project management, and cross-functional collaboration within the organization.
In a nutshell, when TTM takes up less space, that gives companies a proactive start, tipping the scales in their favour by giving GTM time to keep its end of the bargain.