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. In other words, you may wonder how to test a new product.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Market testing is a great way for new businesses to gauge public interest in a product before it goes into production.
  • Use a 3D printer to create a prototype and then run it by a focus group. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
  • You can also market test in a particular part of the country and use hyper-targeted ads to further gauge interest.

What is Market Testing?

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, done by competitors.

How to Market Test New Products

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.

Insider Tip

Market testing is the process by which companies gauge feedback from potential customers regarding a new product or piece of entertainment.

Prototype

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.

Set Up Focus Groups

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. A good way to get people to open is up is to hire a seasoned professional to lead the group. 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.

Insider Tip

3D printers also allow engineers to make changes on the fly, assuming something does not work as intended.

Make Tweaks and Repeat

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.

Samples and Test Ads

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.

Go Into Production

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.

Warning

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.

F.A.Q.S

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)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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