So you have a genius idea for a product. You should hurry and act now before anyone else steals it, right?
Not exactly. It’s vital to first conduct thorough product research. Effective product research can mean the difference between total failure or soaring success. Skipping it is a costly and time-consuming mistake.
Overview: What is product research?
Product research is one component of market research, which is an essential step in developing and launching any product. Market research involves gathering valuable information about your target audience and buyer personas, including their needs, wants, and where they like to shop.
Specifically, product research helps you test product concepts, evaluate ideas, examine competitors, price your product, and avoid expensive mistakes. Even after your product launches, ongoing research allows you to gauge customer satisfaction and make improvements.
Why is it important to do product research?
Even the most brilliant product idea is worthless if there’s no market for it. And you certainly don’t want to spend substantial amounts of money to launch a product that doesn’t sell. This is where new product research comes in.
Product research provides the opportunity to identify potential issues and steer clear of costly mistakes. It helps to make sure there’s a market for your product, see what your competitors are doing well — and what you can do even better — and assess how much customers will pay.
Test out various aspects of your design such as names and packaging to see how they play with your target audience. Analyze possible obstacles and consider how you can extend the product life cycle.
7 tips for effective product research
Thorough research gives you the insight to create and execute a well-planned, highly intentional strategy. With a strategic approach, you’ll minimize mistakes and maximize profit. Follow these tips to gather key information as you develop and market a successful product.
1. Research products in high demand
If you don’t have a product concept in mind yet, gain inspiration by looking into currently popular products. Look at trending hashtags, pins, and comments on Pinterest, and at the best-selling products on Amazon. You can even walk around brick-and-mortar stores to see what they’re selling and how items are categorized.
Do you already know what type of product you’d like to sell? Follow the same process but narrow down your search to look only at products and product categories similar to yours.
Remember to keep an open mind as you try to ascertain the level of demand. Your goal is not to convince yourself that your product idea is outstanding. Your goal is to honestly evaluate the demand and then go back to the drawing board if necessary.
2. Read reviews and case studies on similar products
As you research products like yours, make sure to read reviews. Reviews are a treasure trove of information about what consumers liked and didn’t like about a product. Often customers detail pain points and outline specific improvements or features they would like to see.
Amazon research is a great way to accomplish this task. Plus, Amazon points out bestsellers, “Movers and Shakers,” and even products that are frequently bought together.
Researching on Amazon gives you additional insight into how consumers think throughout the buying process. You may land on an idea for a convenient product bundle you could offer or a stellar cross-selling strategy. Amazon research is especially helpful if you have an online storefront.
Similarly, download or purchase case studies from companies that have sold similar products in the past. Case studies typically identify problems the company faced and then outline how the problem was solved.
By examining reviews and case studies, you can think through potential problems and solve them before they occur. You’ll also identify how your product will improve on similar existing products, differentiating you from the competition.
3. Hire product engineers
It’s useful to involve unbiased experts in the development of your product. Product engineers are available on a contract basis. They can evaluate your design and test prototypes to ensure quality and usability.
If needed, they can also help you analyze market research, develop design ideas, and oversee the production of your product.
4. Host a focus group
Hire people who fit your target market to evaluate your product. Provide a profile of the product. What will it look like? What are its features and benefits? Then ask specific questions about what they like and dislike and whether they would buy the product.
It’s important to note that focus groups aren’t always the most effective. People may say that they like a product and would buy it, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to abandoning your competitors and purchasing your product in the real world.
Bringing a prototype or sample of your product makes the feedback you receive more meaningful and valid.
Another option is using product research tools such as to reach a wider audience with online polls and surveys. Make sure to ask some open-ended questions that solicit specific, actionable feedback. “Yes, I like it,” and “No, I would never buy this,” don’t precisely constitute helpful input.
5. Don’t overlook product marketing
Having a great product and knowing how to price it is essential, but you can’t overlook the importance of product positioning and marketing strategy. Again, it’s useful to research your competitors here. How did they market their product? Was their strategy successful? How could you improve on it?
Consider your target audience, too. Which communication channels and social media platforms do they use the most? Where do they gain inspiration for the products they’d like to purchase?
Where do they shop? What are their interests? Your marketing strategy should resonate with your target audience and speak their language.
If you don’t already have an online store for your product, look into e-commerce software and decide which system is the best fit for your needs and target audience. Use search engine optimization (SEO) and engaging copywriting to draw in customers.
You’ll need to select your marketing strategies, channels, and tools, then plan a marketing campaign.
It may include a launch event, an email marketing campaign, social media posts, help from popular influencers, paid advertisements, etc. If that sounds overwhelming, The Blueprint’s guide to marketing a product online will help.
6. Use a soft launch for product marketing
Test marketing and soft launches help you trial your product to estimate sales. If the trial goes poorly, you can modify the product before spending more money on producing and marketing it.
Test marketing provides beneficial information, but it’s expensive and can only occur after substantial product development.
A soft launch, in the meantime, doesn’t have to be fancy or costly. Set up a simple landing page for your product and then run a pay-per-click campaign to evaluate demand.
As people inquire about your product, explain that you’re about to launch. Provide a form that interested parties can fill out and then be sure to keep in touch and notify them when your product is available.
7. Continue conducting product research
Product research doesn’t end when your product launches. Continue asking for customer feedback, measuring the success of your marketing campaigns, and tracking metrics such as repeat purchases. And test strategies such as a referral program or a loyalty program to attract and retain customers.
Keep an eye on your competitors and any emerging trends in your industry. It’s never too late to refine your marketing strategy or make product improvements.
Product research is a can’t-miss step
Now take your genius product idea and conduct some research. Learn about your potential customers, your competitors, and what people think about your product.
Research marketing strategies, test out a few ideas, and continue to improve and fine-tune. Product research helps you make informed decisions so you can avoid costly blunders and enjoy the rewards of your efforts.