When you're selling a product or service, you need to be able to know people's feedback in order to improve. How? Through research, of course. But knowing where to start, or even how to start, or what matters, and what doesn't, can make the entire realm of market research overwhelming. A "simple" Google search for market research information will leave you drowning in terms like discriminant analysis, multiple regression, and multidimensional scaling. Rick West, of Field Agent, took some time out to break it all down for us, so get ready for some market research 101.
The Who and What Get Overlooked
The biggest risk factor for you, while product launching, is that you get your product fit wrong for the market. This misstep will lead to failure that you most likely will not comeback from. This happens for a few specific reasons:
- We ask the wrong people. (Please stop asking your mother or best friend if she/he loves your product or not...)
- We ask the wrong questions. "Would you buy this?" Does not qualify your product as something people would buy. There are so many variable reasons people say yes or no to this question, that it is unreliable, yet heavily relied upon.
- We don't know how to analyze the data we collect.
Of course, plenty could go wrong with beginner market research, but these are the big key areas we see a ton of mistakes. And if you get these wrong, your people and your questions, whatever you collect won't be accurate, fitting, or applicable anyway, so this is a good place to start. A few generic questions casually asked to the twenty people in your life you spend the most time with is not the way to perfect market fit.
What Are the Ideal Touchpoints?
Ideally, you should be able to serve the people who could touch your product, use your product, purchase it, receive it, engage it; and then could capture videos, play with the product, and get you near real-time feedback. These are some of the services Field Agent offers, and if you cannot fathom putting this into play on your own, you should consider bringing in experts.
Effective Research Is Multidimensional
Effective market research allows you to see how your customer engages your product, what difficulties they have, what might not be intuitive to them for usage or assembly, and from this you can use that information to target those areas specifically. You cannot do this by asking your neighbor if they like your packaging. The level that is necessary for success is a multidimensional approach.
It's critically important that you are making choices in the design, packaging, features, instructions, POP and all of those aspects of it, based on the context of how, where, and when you plan to sell. The earlier you can get information about your competitors, items on the shelf, where yours would sit, how you can compete against it once you get to the shelf, what packaging looks like, what is working and what isn't, the earlier you can really hone in on your approach. At the end of the day, we're trying to sell more, that's the point of all this. And to sell more, your data and research has to apply to exactly what you are selling, exactly where you are selling it, and that can only come from exactly who you are selling to.
On the Shelf vs. Online
I find too often that our entrepreneurs and inventors come online, and online is not an indicator of what made it to store. If your goal is to be a brand on the shelf, you better know what colors are on the shelf. You better know how they look on the shelf. You cannot make your packaging decisions and your decisions about color choices and features and everything from online data because online data is not reflective of what people are actually seeing at the point of purchase decision.
Take Advantage of Right Now
With mobile phones and 24/7 access, the way we do research has changed because everything has the potential to be almost instantaneous. To be efficient with your startup funds, and make the most of the touchpoints and time spent by your potential consumer, you really need to take advantage of the technology available right now. Whether it's starting with a $500 budget at Field Agent, or creating points of contact with your ideal buyer, or running side-by-side comparisons with your competition, the entry is easier than it's ever been, and cheaper than I've ever seen it.
Pro Tip: Homemade videos of customers receiving, opening, and engaging your product are better at a Costco or Target meeting to get on the shelf than mass produced "why you should buy" videos. Reality sells.