When a new product fails, in the majority of all cases it is because the consumer's actual need is missing. An obvious approach to solving this problem would be to specifically ask consumers about their needs in a consumer survey. But be careful: if you give potential buyers a choice of two products and ask them for their opinion, there will always be a bias that contaminates the validation of a product.
When developing products and testing if there is an intent of purchase or usage from potential customers, the motto should be "If you buy it, we will build it" instead of "Would you buy it if we build it?". Only those who assess the real interest of potential customers directly in the target market at the earliest possible time can understand whether their idea really has what it takes to become a blockbuster. Daniel Putsche, the founder of Horizon, explains how you can do this in 5 simple steps.
1. Identify Trends and Gain Insights
If you are serious about product innovation, you should not act on gut instinct. A strategic approach is recommended as early as the brainstorming stage to ensure that you are on the right track from the very first step. Here are three practical examples of such an approach:
- Foresight management: Analyze which overall trends currently exist in relation to specific needs on the part of consumers. An example from the retail sector is the obvious need for a higher degree of convenience, as currently demonstrated by the examples of Gorillas or Flink ("Quick Commerce").
- Diversification: If you already have an existing product portfolio, you can diversify it based on insights and market understanding - both horizontally and vertically. Not randomly, of course, but always depending on the consumer side and the needs and desires you identified.
- Find niches: Dare to look into the crystal ball and identify business areas that hold future opportunities depending on certain economic or social developments. Here, it is equally imperative to conduct a detailed analysis of market demand.
It is not uncommon to hear that successful business models emerge from personal experience - for example, if a particular need could not be met in a personal context or if certain challenges could not be solved with the help of existing offerings. Such opportunistic motivation can also lead to success - but only if it is first checked whether one's own "need" is also applicable in general and whether a sufficiently large market exists.
2. Create Product Concepts
The groundwork outlined above is certainly resource-intensive, but at the same time, it is an indispensable prerequisite for all further steps to be effective. This applies in particular to the conception of the new product, which should ideally be carried out in different versions so that several variants can be tested subsequently. There are five content dimensions that must be taken into account during the conception phase:
- Brand: The first impression in the target group is undoubtedly made by the brand of the product itself. So whether an existing brand is used for testing the product idea or whether a new one is created, you should decide strategically.
- Values and value propositions: Define very specifically what values your product represents and clearly articulate what the benefits are for the buyer. Don't refer so much to the product itself, but rather to a problem in the consumer's world that the product solves.
- Positioning: You should then define a clear positioning in the target market. A decisive factor here is, for example, differentiation from your competitors.
- Pricing: Another crucial aspect in the course of conception is pricing. Potential customers want to know at the earliest possible stage what costs they will face. And you want to know how much the potential customer is willing to pay.
- Reason to believe: Why can your brand actually deliver on the product promise you made? A clear answer to this question is imperative and should be communicated clearly.
3. Test Concepts at Opinion Level
The moment has come, your product is about to be launched on the market - at least as an idea in the form of a so-called verbal concept. This is a very specific description of the product in text form, in which the previously described dimensions of the product concept are taken into account.
The verbal concept is used to obtain a genuine opinion on your product idea. To be able to generate valid customer feedback in the form of a purchase intention, the so-called monadic approach is suitable: You only present one concept to each potential customer, which prevents their opinion from being influenced by another concept coming from the same brand of origin.
However, when interpreting the results, always be aware that a consumer's opinion does not necessarily reflect his or her subsequent actions (the so-called "bias"). Therefore, use the findings as an indication for your further actions - but never as a basis for deciding whether you should develop a product or not. You will learn in the following how you can derive that decision.
4. Investigate Actual Consumer-Behavior with Landing Page Tests
To eliminate the bias from the opinion-based tests, the next step is to transfer the insights gained from the concept tests into the product - and to do so in the form of landing pages that reflect the previously defined value proposition and the purchasing arguments addressed. Crucially, these landing pages must be designed so realistically that consumers believe they can already buy a finished product.
A landing page alone will not have any effect, the new product message must now be carried into the world. A proven approach - especially for products targeting consumers - is to set up Facebook Ads that bring users from your target audience into contact with the respective product variant you are testing.
5. Iterate or Launch
To finally lead a product idea to real success, it is essential to measure and analyze the conversions of landing page visitors and the following elements of the customer journey. Depending on the test results from the landing page tests, there is of course the possibility of implementing iterations of the concepts and starting new tests in the further course - or going into development and turning the concept into an actual product.
Product validation as a factor of safety
The landing page test is the ultimate proof of concept for the market acceptance of your product idea, as it measures real consumer behaviour without the consumer knowing that he or she is involved in a test situation. In addition, the described approach allows you to calculate how much advertising budget you need to spend to achieve a sale - a key figure that plays an important role in subsequent marketing and the business case for the product.
Admittedly: The setup of a landing page test can be a bit tricky at first. Here you will find an overview of how such a test can be set up.