Acta Universitatis Danubius. Œconomica, Vol 15, No 7 (2019)

Developing and managing product development for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa

Mercy Makhitha, Louise van Scheers, William Mmatli


This article examines new product development (NPD) in South African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa.  The main aim of the research was to establish SMEs’ approach to developing and marketing new products.

Problem investigated

The high failure rate of SMEs originate from intense competitive and sustainable. One way for the SMEs to be competitive is by constantly developing new and unique products.  The problem is that it is not easy for SMEs to develop new products because they lack marketing skills to develop these new products.  Limited research was conducted on the marketing factors affecting new product development by SMEs in South Africa, which create a gap for this article. 


Quantitative method was used to collect the data in the form of a survey.  The sample size for this study was 100 respondents. Purposive sampling was used as the researcher needed to reach a target sample quickly and the sampling for proportionality is not the main concern. The owners of SMEs were selected using the database to invite them to participate in the workshop therefore; the sample frame was readily available which minimized the selection bias.  The Cronbach alpha for the scale used was 0.872, indicating the satisfactory internal consistency reliability.

Research Findings

The researcher found that SME’s produce high quality products while the research also confirms that they offer a broad range of products. The research further finds that 71% of the SME have innovative ability to bring new products in the market, including improvement. Although SMEs appear to be doing good on factors like product quality, packaging and innovative ability, their products are not distinctive and unique while they also produce products that are not necessarily different from those of competitors.

Significance of the research for South African SMEs of the research

SMEs play a vital role in the economy of South Africa, therefore their sustainability is crucial. This study will contribute to the SMEs owners on factors to consider when developing a new product.  Since there is limited research on marketing factors affecting new product development, this study also shed light on how each factor can be incorporated and implemented during new product development process.


This study found that SMEs in South Africa are doing well in terms of implementing the marketing factors for new product development. Despite the outcomes indicating that the SMEs in South Africa seem to be doing well in terms of new product development and the marketing factors, it is worth noting that SMEs have different needs at different stages of development and they still need intense support from the government.


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