In general, most, if not all of you here right now are at different stages of product development. Some of you might be drafting your ideas, some of you might be on the invention phase, some of you might be in prototyping phase. Maybe you already have a new product out in the market, or maybe you are looking to expand your SKUs and your brand as a whole. Succeeding at every stage and knowing for sure if someone wants to buy your product requires a great deal of market research, which comes in many different forms, including doing a quantitative survey, focus group discussions, and lots of others. Laura Hazzard guides you through the foundations of market research from methodologies, data analysis including how and when to do them so you can learn how to use maximize your resources and get the most out of your product launch.
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In this episode, we have Laura Hazzard, our consumer market research expert on all things quantitative and qualitative market research.
I’m Laura Hazzard. I’m your resident research expert here in Product Launch Hazzards. I think it’s important for us before we get too far into the nitty gritty details to take a step back and look at research for new products in general and what to do and when. In this episode, we’re covering what types of research because there’s tons of types to do and when to do it. I know all of you are at different stages in your product development. Some of you have an idea, an invention and you think that’s going to be awesome. Some of you are in prototyping phases and some of you have a product that’s out on the market but it’s new, and then others are maybe looking to expand.
We’re going to be talking through all the different phases and how to incorporate research and why it’s important to research at each of these phases. It’s going to be a lot of information. You can follow up on the blog after, or send me an email. I’m more than happy to dive into this with you. You have an idea, this is the very beginning. It’s really important to make sure that your idea sticks with others, that other people need your product, will buy your product, and love your product. You already have a lot of knowledge, it’s important to get it down on paper and start a database.
This is what I call secondary research. This where we all begin. Even if you’re further in the process and you haven’t done this, take a step back and do this, “What do I mean by secondary research?” This is information that already exists out in the world, your competitors, what products exists, the marketing and who’s talking and what the stores are doing in your industry and in your category. By doing this research, it’s hitting the ground. It’s going into stores looking at shelves, taking photos, writing down the prices, the colors, all the attributes. It’s also going online, going through Amazon, and seeing what is available now. You need a complete audit of your marketplace. Once you do this, you should be able to answer some of these questions. Then you’ll know if you did it right. Who owns the market? Who’s the leader? Even if your product is something totally new and unique, consumers are counting for something in their life.
If you have a brand-new facial product for acne, even if it’s totally revolutionizing, some consumers are already doing something. You should know who’s your leader in the market, who owns it and also who are the potential threats? What are the prices for what’s going to be your competition? What are people spending and be willing to spend? What’s the good, better, best pricing? Will your product be premium? Will it be value driven? If you don’t know now, that’s okay but you should know the tiers, colors, styles, what’s available, all of those attributes. How is your competition advertising right now? Are they doing print, TV, traditional? Are they on YouTube doing infomercials? Are they on Instagram, Facebook? Get the lay of the land because you’re going to need all this information as you start to create a product and a brand.
Something to consider, who are the influencers in your marketplace? An influencer is someone that people listen to. This could be the owner of a corporation, a professor that’s really important in your industry, a celebrity, or it could also be a YouTube star. There are different influencers out there and you need to know who’s important, not just the brands but who. Once you have all this information, you got to put it into a database. I know Excel can sometimes be hard but it usually works the best. Get all of your information lined up. I know Tracy does this a lot with her clients and she’s designing for them. It’s really important to write it down so you can reference it later and get it all out there.
This is the lay of the land. That’s the secondary research of your competition. It’s also important to talk to consumers. A lot of people think when I’m doing focus groups or online surveys, it’s going to cost a lot of money and I haven’t even started yet. There’s a lot of research you can do that doesn’t cost money. Start by talking to your friends and family. Tell them about your idea, tell them what you want to invent, get their feedback. Put it out on your own Facebook and ask people to give their honest opinion on what they think of your idea, what they would pay for it. A lot of this is really important. People will be honest with you and if they’re your friends and family, they’re going to care and they want to direct you to the right place.
You can also go into places. A lot of people don’t think about going on to Reddit. Reddit, if you’re unfamiliar, you should definitely familiarize yourself. All of your market consumers are organized on Reddit. They talk about products and they have opinions. There are these things called subreddits. Going back to skincare, there are skincare subreddits. It’s like a big community forum, comments and posts. If you go in there and say, “I have this idea or what are you missing? What are you lacking?” They’ll give you feedback. If you do have a little bit of money in the budget, I always recommend a quant survey. That’s collecting information to get an online survey, understanding the data of who is interested in your product, and what they will pay.
If you’re looking for investors to help fund your product development, you will need data. They’re going to say, “How do you know this is going to work?” You have to back it up with something, a quant survey is a lot of times what investors are going to look for. I also like a good focus group, even just a couple. Pull together some people, talk to them about what they’re looking for, what they’re missing, will they buy your product? Are they interested in it? We have passed the threshold, we want the product, now it’s time to create a prototype.
There are tons of experts in this group that can help you with prototyping, designing and getting it to a physical form. A lot of people I work with take the physical form and just want to start. They want to find distributors, they want to find somewhere in China to manufacture, and they’re ready to go. They want to start their website and get going. I always say, when you have a prototype, take a pause, and do more research because now we have it in physical form. This is a really important critical time to make sure people still like it, they still want to buy it, and also test the usability. Usability research is really critical in the prototype phase and what that means is just researching how people interact and use your product.An influencer is someone that people listen to. Click To Tweet
This can be done a couple of different ways. It depends on the product, sometimes when you have a prototype, you can only create a couple because it’s really expensive. If you only have a couple or even one, focus groups are going to be your best. That’s where you bring people together, you show them the product, and you see how they like it. See what they don’t like, see what works, see what doesn’t, it gives you a general sense of any red flags that you need to fix before going into full production. If you’re able to get multiple prototypes like 25 to 50, then we do something called an in-home use test, an iHUT. You send it out to people’s homes, they test it in the natural environment where they would be using your product, and fill out a survey. Sometimes they’ll tell you exactly what they think, they’ll rate it, they’ll tell you what they’ll pay for it, and you get something in writing. For those investors, you can also have them take photos of them using it, videos of them using it. It’s just a great way to collect a lot of information and make sure it’s going to work properly before you spent all the money creating all of those products.
We’re ready to start selling. The work begins then because when you start going to market, you’re introducing so many other things. You’re no longer in your bubble, you have not just the product to worry about but you have your brand, your marketing, your advertising, your reviews, all of that. There’s a lot more to worry about. Research is a great way to keep a pulse on it. You’re not up at night worried and nervous. What’s going to happen? Doing research can put you at ease, you know what’s going on and you know what people are thinking. I always recommend when you start selling a product to include some type of way to collect satisfaction surveys. Even it’s just a little link when you put it in the box and ship it off to someone, “Fill out this survey, tell me what you think.” We’ve all done them. You can give them a little incentive, 20% off your next purchase if you fill out the survey. You can’t be scared of it and it’s important to get that information back.
Satisfaction tracking is a type of research, it’s a way to learn how things are going. Do they like it? Do they regret the purchase? Do they feel like they paid too much or was it cheap? Could you raise the price? How has this affected your brand? What’s missing? What do they want next from you? This also helps if they really love your product, you can follow up and ask for a review online. Amazon review, write something on Facebook, a testimonial. If they didn’t like the product, it’s also your opportunity to correct it. Your first year in the life of your new product, it’s really important that you pay close attention to what the consumer thinks and says about your product. You want them to share and post online to all their friends. Buy it again, give it as a gift. Satisfaction tracking is a great way to keep a pulse on that.
When you have your products, you have your one product and you might have more. It’s important to continually do both quantitative and qualitative research. The quantitative research makes sure you know what’s going on, what they’re thinking, and you start to track your brand. What do they think of this brand now? Is it an expensive brand? What types of marketing should this brand be doing? Should you be on Instagram? Should you have a YouTube star be promoting or testing your product? If you continually need to save money, that quantitative data and your sales data is what your investors are going to be looking for as they continue to support your business. Qualitative research is also important to continue on as your product hits the world out there. It’s good to reconnect with your consumer and hear their voice. It’s important to know how they talk about it as well. You get that a lot from qualitative research, when your consumers have the product in front of them.
They’re going to use certain words to describe it that you may not have thought about. You can use your marketing messages. You can also start to get a deeper understanding of who your consumer is and what really matters to them. What are their core values? All of this will tie up who your brand is and where it’s going because ultimately your new brand is not going to stop one product. You want to create more, you want to sell more. The takeaway is you want to continually be doing research. We go back to phase one. Remember all that secondary research, that has to continue as well. You need to make sure you always have a pulse on what’s happening. The work does not stop once you have a bestselling product because it may only be bestselling for one season or one year. If you’re not going back in store and seeing what the competition’s doing, what they’re charging, what promotions they’re running at Target, you may miss out, and it may completely tank and you got to see that coming.
Your qualitative research, quantitative research and that competitive analysis are critical to continue beyond just the initial phases. All of these initial phases are important just to make sure you’re creating the right product but we want to sustain your product and your brand. That’s an overview of what to do. Quick summary, at the beginning before your prototype, look at your competition, see what’s going on, and talk to consumers. Will they buy your product? Check. Step two, create the prototype and now have people test it. That usability, that iHUT, get it in the hands, learn what works, what doesn’t. Step three, now it’s in market. Let’s start some satisfaction tracking, let’s learn what they thought about it, will they continue to buy? Let’s continue to check in with our competitors, with our influencers, with our consumers on what’s going on.
That’s the takeaway of where to go. The main question I get from most people is, “This feels like a lot and I have no money. All my money is going into creating my prototypes and buying that inventory.” I know it feels overwhelming and really expensive. It costs $2,000 to get started with your research. If you don’t have the budget, you can reach out to consultants like myself, this type of group of experts is an affordable way to do some research. Just on your own, get some feedback from people that know their stuff. Start small, talk to your friends and family, don’t be scared to go online and just start posting questions and ideas.Quantitative Surveys a lot of times are what business investors are looking for. Click To Tweet
Another thing I hear is, “I don’t want to tell people because I don’t want people to steal my idea.” I always struggle with this because I know we are so precious in our ideas and inventions, but at some point, we do have to talk about it. If we keep everything under wraps, then it’s scary because what if no one likes it when you make it. That is something that you will always struggle with in the initial phase, it’s a question I get a lot. The reality is lots of people have ideas, but you have decided to take an action on it, a lot of people won’t. I wouldn’t be too worried, you can always have people sign an NDA.
Those are usually the most common questions that I get about research in general. My next coming up episodes will be diving into how to craft a quantitative survey. What questions do I ask? In a focus group, how do I do that? I’m going to dive into all of those pieces. I’m more than happy to jump in on a call with you or answer a question if you want, send me an email and we can talk through your full timeline.
Tune in to Laura Hazzard next Office Hours. Connect with and find out more about Laura Hazzard in our Experts Directory.