So you’ve got this fantastic idea for a new product. Everyone you speak to agrees it’s wonderful; you’re husband or wife, you’re mother and father, you’re grandparents, and even the neighbours you spoke to over the garden hedge! You take off and invest heavily in the start up and manufacture of this totally brilliant concept only to find sales are a portion of what you estimated.
So what went wrong?
There are a number of fundamentals that the majority of entrepreneurs will follow when taking a new product to market, however the most important step and probably, in hindsight, the most obvious, is more often than not overlooked.
When we aim to validate our product ideas we must combine our business heads and experience with the basic product to market strategy. Relying on just one or the other is risky business.
Take Thomas Alva Edison for example. I’d bet my bottom dollar that Edison didn’t follow a strict product validation strategy when he invented the light bulb. I’d also bet that nobody went to him and said ‘I need a switch on my wall that will light up my room, something I can turn on and off as I please!’ Edison saw a market need, something that customers were willing to pay for and more importantly something that solved a problem. In his case that was validation enough.
On the other hand take the POST-IT when it was first launched back in 1977. Sales never really got off the ground as consumers had never tried anything like it before. It only became a successful product when 3M ran a free product trial with the residents of Boise, Idaho and recorded a 90% purchase probability. In this case, the initial concept was not understood by the market, there was no real market need for it and it didn’t really solve any consumer problems…until people tried it out!
The above examples prove that we need to err on the side of caution when doing our initial validation.
Many products, which have become extremely successful didn’t show much optimism at initial validation phase. The Apple iPod probably being the most renowned example of this in the 21st century. Initially released in 2001 as an alternative to the CD or MP3 player, the iPod experienced snail paced sales due to its price and Mac-only compatibility. Similarly to the POST-IT, the market had never experienced such a product and were therefore unable to see the initial value of it.
It wasn’t until 2004 that regular ‘Apple style’ sales were seen and market demand peaked. In black and white, you’d say that either, a) the quality of validation undertaken by Apple was poor, or b) they simply didn’t do any validation on the product concept.
In the real world however, I find myself debating whether they were a) carving out a new market niche AND b) creating demand for something the market didn’t yet know it needed! I’d even go so far as to say that their validation maybe dictated their future strategy!
As a marketer of course I would recommend you carry out in depth validation of your product concept before investing thousands in the development of something that the market neither needs nor wants.
Start by asking yourself:
• Who are my customers?
• Is there a demand for my product?
• Will my product solve a customer’s immediate problem?
• Are people actually willing to pay for my product? • How much will they pay?
• Who are my competitors? • What differentiates my product from my competitors?
• What is the potential market size for my concept?
• Where can I find potential customers?
If you can answer all of the above without having done any market research then you have some work to do! You’re quickly falling into the Wantrepreneur category! Methodical market research is the key to successful validation of any new product concept.
Be an entrepreneur not a Wantrepreneur, after all, concept to realisation doesn’t happen overnight and neither will accurate validation of your product idea.
If you’d like more information on Concept Validation contact me in IMS today on 091 739450 or email [email protected]