How to Conduct Market Research Before You Develop a Product

business-690675_960_720The following is a guest contributed post from Elly Watson of Pollfish.

Did you come up with a wonderful idea for an exciting product? Do you want to rapidly shift your company’s resources towards getting this new product to market? Perhaps you even hope to found a startup to introduce the public to your wonderful innovation. If you haven’t done any market research to test and tune your great ideas, acting too rapidly might be very risky behavior. To sustain your company, good ideas also have to be profitable ones.

Market research will ensure that you’ve really thought through your invention by considering what today’s consumers actually want or need. Why not learn more about your target market before you invest in production, packaging, and marketing? You can use information that you gain in every step of the process. If you plan to apply for financing, you’ll certainly need to build a business case for your new product. Your market research can help convince potential investors and lenders that you have a sound vision.

An Introduction to Market Research for Small Companies and Startups

Market research is not just something that large companies do. In fact, smaller companies and startups usually need to watch their cash flow very carefully. They can only afford to invest in truly desirable products that have the potential to maximize profits. In addition, internet and mobile technology have made all sorts of market research tools very accessible for smaller businesses. Your tiny company can access very sophisticated polling and analysis tools without spending a lot of money or time.

These are two kinds of market research to consider for new products:

Primary Research

You gather primary research right from people who are likely to become your customers. For example, you might create an online or mobile survey for customer insights into your target market’s needs, wants, and behavior. The tools you can use to create and publish surveys are simple and affordable for companies of all sizes. You can find out if your potential customers share your excitement and vision. This also gives you a chance to fine tune your idea to make sure you really deliver what consumers want to buy.

This information should not discourage you from moving forward; instead, it should encourage you because you know you’ll make progress with good information about how people are likely to react to your product in the real world. For instance, you might find that changing the size, color, or some other minor feature of your product will make it more desirable to the general public. This information can help you make your product better, and it might also spark ideas for marketing that product.

Secondary Research

Secondary research gives you insights into your target market or even the experiences that other companies have had with similar products. You can find all sorts of information about population demographics and other companies without spending much or even any money. This data might help you support your idea or send you back to the drawing board to reword it into something better.

What are some available, free sources of secondary research? You could start with the government, trade associations, and even your own town or city. Two good places to start include the U.S. Census Bureau and your local library. If you run a local business, data about the age and average income of your neighbors might help. Almost any kind of new or small business can benefit from information about potential competitors. Once you understand your market, you can start building your business case. When you learn about competitors, you can figure out what you can do better.

Getting Started With Market Research is Easier Than You Think

Instead of just asking your family, coworkers, or employees about your concept for a new product, why not poll people who are most likely to buy what you offer? To get started, you can create a mobile survey that will deliver the answers that you need. Even the smallest companies can now afford primary research and probably cannot afford to move on without it. Market research helps turn good ideas into profitable ones.