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If you are readying a new consumer-grade product for release, you may be wondering how to get some actionable data from would-be customers. Just don’t harrass or trick them, or you may end up with a lot of fake reviews. In other words, you may wonder how to test a new product. One idea is a launch party, which can bring in lots of new customers.
Market testing is the process by which companies gauge feedback from potential customers regarding a new product or piece of entertainment. Most major industries regularly perform their own versions of market testing, including the restaurant industry, the technology industry, the gaming industry, the office supplies industry, the film industry, and more. Businesses rely on market testing because it allows them to get real-world feedback before they “release it into the wild,” so to say. Without that, one would find it harder to know if reviews are fake, or done by competitors.
The actual steps of test marketing a potential product may differ depending on the type of industry you are involved with. To that end, we have tried to keep these tips and steps as universal as possible.
Market testing is the process by which companies gauge feedback from potential customers regarding a new product or piece of entertainment.
Your first step should be to create a prototype item for the purpose of testing and review. Customers will not have much to say about paper designs, after all. The world of prototyping has grown in leaps in bounds in recent years, thanks to the mass adoption of 3D printers. In the old days, companies would have to purchase industrial printers that cost in upwards of $40,000. Nowadays, you can buy your own consumer-grade 3D printer for $500 to $2,000. This technological leap has allowed many new companies to easily prototype any designs floating around in their heads. 3D printers also allow engineers to make changes on the fly, assuming something does not work as intended.
Once you have a 3D-printed prototype that is to your liking, it is time to bring it in front of some actual people. Set up a focus group and allow people to have some hands-on time with the product you are developing. Try to make the atmosphere of the focus group as relaxed and open as possible, so people feel comfortable to give their true and honest opinions. Hiring a seasoned professional to lead the group is a good way to get people to open up. Another pro tip is to “test ugly.” This means you should allow the prototype to remain unfinished in appearance. This will allow your focus group to imagine room for improvement and speak accordingly.
3D printers also allow engineers to make changes on the fly, assuming something does not work as intended.
So you’ve gathered feedback from a focus group. Have this feedback assessed by your team of engineers and task them to implement any agreed-upon changes to the product. Break out the old 3D printer once again and make these changes. Once you have the brand new approved prototype, organize another focus group with new people and gauge their opinions. In the world of test marketing, there is no such thing as too many focus groups. The more actionable data you have, the better.
Once you are happy with the prototype design, go into limited production and offer samples based on a geographic location that may be amenable to the product. Feel free to give away samples, but on the condition that the receiver issues an honest and unbiased review for the purpose of feedback. Be aware of fraudulent competitor feedback such as IMBd fake reviews. You should also run some test ads in this same market to gauge public interest. Most social media sites will allow companies to create hyper-targeted ads that will be directed at those who live in certain parts of the country or even the world.
Now you have all of the market testing data you need to bring a successful product to the marketplace. Go into production at your leisure, rolling out the product in a wider variety of locations to a wider variety of consumers.
Try to make the atmosphere of the focus group as relaxed and open as possible, so people feel comfortable to give their true and honest opinions.
Can you test market demand for a product you haven’t created yet?
Yes. Create an online survey to gauge public interest in a product that has yet to be created. You can also use a 3D printer to make a prototype design.
When should you conduct a test market?
This will depend on the industry, but you should generally conduct a test market while you have a working prototype but before the ultimate design has been finalized.
Why is product testing important?
No design is perfect from the get-go. Once consumers get their hands on a product, they will find any weakness or imperfection. If you perform adequate product testing, you will make sure the product is at its best before being sold.
STAT: 95% of product launches fail often because a brand pushes them to launch without stopping to find out if the product is something people actually want. (source)