How to Build a Powerful Product Through Market Research
There is no one single secret to successfully launching a powerful product. But with a considerable amount of thought, process and planning; it’s 100% achievable. In this article, we will discuss some of the key lessons on how you can plan a successful product launch by developing your initial design ideas.
The key to a successful launch of any product is grasping the concept of control, learning to be on top of everything, and when. Well, before you are thinking about product construction and the nuances of its function, you need to register if your product is actually viable.
The viability of anything is the key to success. It will drive your idea through to fruition; it will push you through the hard days when everything appears stacked against you (and trust me when launching anything, there will be many of these), and give you the inner determination to strive towards the light at the end of the tunnel.
Just knowing that there is a market for your commodity can pull you through the minefield of product launch.
So… How can you ensure your product journey starts from concrete foundations?
Having a robust, well thought out market understanding and the directions it guides is the rationale as to why anyone does anything in business. It goes some of the ways to predict if there is a demand for your product or idea, it allows you to gauge the size of that market, the demographic and ultimately how much your idea is worth.
What is market research?
Market research is an organised effort to gather information on your target market and consumers. Learning about your customers, who they are, what their interests signify and where they frequent, market research is one of the key pillars to a successful, sustainable product.
Why would you want to produce a product, invest countless hours, spend your hard-earned cash and end up bankrolling a hobby, a hobby that doesn't have a market, demand or customers?
Hint: You wouldn't. Ensure you do your homework, or you can end up having expensive stock sat in a warehouse, eating into capital, paying for repository storage fees.
If you are already selling online or in the e-commerce world; you will probably know various tools currently helping product choice, if not, or just starting on an e-commerce selling journey, companies like Jungle Scout are a great source of knowledge. They can assist in getting an overview of sales on Amazon, what's being imported and indicate product line openings.
Google Trends is a precious tool to gauge market sentiment. Using savvy keyword choices, you can start to decipher the current market explorations and specific sectors. Be cautious of cognitive bias here. You want impartial researched advice, not a biased interpretation of the market.
A recent example I was involved in; a client had asked us to investigate a potential supply of pizza oven wood pellets. Google Trends showed that there had been a large increase in search terms around this product. This is a good indication that there potentially is growth in the market.
It also looked like there was the same trend with a keyword of charcoal; the question then was; which was the correct product for stock in the shop? Charcoal, or pizza oven wood pellets.
After some more investigation, when looking into the charcoal search term, the main driver for the increase in traffic was in fact charcoal face masks (due to the increase of people at home through the pandemic), not charcoal fire fuel. If you are a company selling fuel sources (wood, pellets, hay) then based on the Google trends, then the pellets look a better product to venture in to rather than charcoal.
Secondary market research
These are examples of Secondary market research. Secondary market research is usually free, conducted by yourself, it's using information that’s in the public domain to recognise if it has the demand for a product.
Unwittingly, you probably already conduct a degree of secondary market research. The last time you pondered around buying a new computer or looking at acquiring a new TV, you conducted a certain degree of market research. Investigating various model availability vs spec, based upon budget, needs, why, who is selling what, where are they selling, when and how.
The answers to the questions that you researched for that simple computer purchase can be documented; ultimately, these are data sets the same as market research data points.
The difference between the professional market research and your search; is merely a degree of organisation and depth of search. This comes down to planning and recording the correct data.
Which leads us to the original point, planning. If you plan and record data methodically, you will start to build data sets, and the only investment made was your time. You can search for trends, understand pain points, understand the market pricing, understand who your potential customer is, what their demographics are, and crucial for your next step (if needed) your search for primary market research areas.
Primary Market Research
Primary market research is data that is collected for a specific purpose. Its data that unlike secondary market research data is not already in existence.
Much like secondary research, you may have collected some of these data sets previously. Its no coincidence that Facebook, Youtube, Linked in and other social media platforms have polls. These polls are the perfect example of primary market research.
Primary research embraces workshops like focus groups, where a group of individuals may be in one area, or workshop critiquing a product, service or marketing concept. Their feedback will be collected, compiled and recorded in an easily interpreted way. Here it's important to translate the words coming out of your subject/ subjects mouth into meaningful data. You won't record all the information, but the key takeaways from the statement; possibly highlighting their pain points or price perceptions.
Interviews may be used, one to one, or groups.
These interviews don't have to be a one-way street; you can interview both supplier and consumer here. An interview with a supplier could provide detailed information around manufacturing techniques; it could shine a light on your design, highlight flaws in your product, subsequently you may choose different materials or manufacturing procedures based upon the supplier's advice.
When interviewing potential customers, you can really gauge what a customer looks for in a product or service. How do they usually purchase that service or product, how they search for a component and what their pain points are. This information would again be translated into real usable data and compiled.
Surveys are a great way to gauge big data pools. As discussed above, these used to be expensive, and you needed to know where the potential consumers frequented to gain an accurate data set of relevant people. However, with the emergence of social media polls, this is as easy as ever.
Just take a look down your news feed, and you can start to realise the power of polls. They ask a straightforward question to a lot of people, and the answer is predetermined, meaning that the data does not need to be translated. You don't have 300 statements that have to be read through, the data is there, pre-translated.
Testing and trialling
Testing and trialling of products is also a perfect way of understanding the way your product will be perceived, handled and even broken. Testing is the best way of ensuring you have not only the correct product for the market, but it allows potential customers to hold, feel and manipulate your products in a way that you may have overlooked.
Market research, both primary and secondary, has its benefits and drawbacks. The advantages include that you get to understand if you have a product idea that's worthwhile exploring. Something that will actually make you money. After conducting primary research, it's also recent and relevant. It gives you far more detailed analysis into customers minds.
There are, of course, drawbacks to market research, the main one being it can be expensive. But its a necessity, all of the drawback (bar one) will give you a greater understanding of markets and their conditions.
We discuss bias in testing a lot, and indeed we talk about bias a lot in our testing topics (you can read more about bias here). The main issue you need to combat in all aspects of market research is a cognitive bias. Are you actually listening or you just hearing what YOU want to hear?
It's easy to say, no, I am developing a plan based upon the data, but really ensure that you are. Remember that when you are planning your market research techniques also ensure that you are developing your strategies to ensure that you remove bias. If there is no market for your product, don't press ahead regardless. You will end up burned. Remember its easy designing a product for your market rather than designing a market for your product.
Market research is just one of the key pillars towards a sustainable product, idea, service and indeed company. But use these skills as a package; in isolation, it will not take you to the top of your game alone. There are many ingredients in getting a concept to market, including design, manufacture marketing and product quality.
In isolation, you could have the perfect single pillar, but without all of them, your structure will collapse.