Home Blog Qualitative Research 7 ways to test the market for a new product

7 ways to test the market for a new product

You’ve got a brand-new product brewing that’s sure to be the bee’s knees – but before you plough too much time and investment into its rollout, wouldn’t it be good to know how your target customers feel about it?

It can be hard to take an objective look at something you’re so close to; especially when you think it has all the makings of the next big thing. But however much you believe in it, testing the market makes sound business sense.

In this blog, we’ll talk you through what market testing is all about, reveal the benefits to your business, explain how it’s done, and lay out next steps.

What is market testing?

In the fraught and highly competitive world of product launches, it’s important to do your homework. Your rollout can’t be rushed: instead, it needs to be meticulously planned out with painstaking precision – and a crucial part of that is understanding how your product will land.

Market testing is a great way to get a handle on whether there’s a market for the product or service you’re hoping to sell. If there’s not…well, there’s no point sinking your precious resources into it. But as well as understanding whether there’s interest in its current form, market testing also lets you scope out what changes you could make to give your product legs if its first iteration is falling short.

What you really need to know is whether your product or service is filling a gap: is there a need for what you’re selling? Would people actually buy it – and at the price point you’re hoping to attach to it? Having prototypes made on a small scale can allow you to test your idea on a wider audience than friends and family, but not so wide that you’ll need to shell out too much of your budget.

How can your business benefit from market testing?

A dud product launch can leave a very bitter taste in your mouth – and the mouths (and memories) of consumers. Without market testing, you could waste a great deal of time, effort and money on something that’s never going to get off the ground. And if you go straight to market with a product that’s not been properly scoped out, and it falls in any way short of expectations, anyone who tries it isn’t going to trust you again.

Taking the time to carry out market testing allows you to keep the faith with your customers. The people who are testing your product or service know that it’s in its infancy, and therefore won’t judge you for any missteps; rather, they’ll give you invaluable insights into what they like about your big idea, and what needs a little more attention.

That way, when you finally do go to market with an all-signing, all-dancing product launch, you can do so safe in the knowledge that what you’re putting out into the world is needed, wanted, and likely to sell.

How to test the market for a new product?

  1. Start with friends and family

    When it comes to testing out the validity of your new product or service, the most cost-effective way to check it has legs before going any further is to consult your friends and family. As your most receptive audience, they’re likely to encourage any new pursuit: if they don’t believe there’s a market for what you’re selling, or wouldn’t pay what you’re asking, it’s likely to be a non-starter in its current format.
  2. Produce protoypes on a small scale

    The next stage in your market testing should be to run up some prototypes of your product to send out into the big bad world. A good tip here is to embrace the ugly: focus groups are less likely to heavily criticise a product that’s presented to them in its finished state but tend to feel more comfortable offering honest feedback if a product is visibly still evolving.
  3. Move your testing online

    The internet is an endless source of ideas, inspiration, and brutally honest opinions. Visiting forums related to the product or service you’re hoping to sell will give you an idea of the level of demand (along with an insight into what people actually want to see), while sites like Market Samurai are great for revealing how many customers are searching for the sort of service you’re offering – and most helpfully, how likely they are to part with their hard-earned cash for it.
  4. Take the learnings from the competition

    It can be incredibly disheartening to spend months developing a product or service you believe to be unique, only to find there’s already somebody offering up your idea in the current marketplace. The thing is, it’s extremely rare to create something that doesn’t already exist markets are so often saturated that your best option is to scope out the competition, learn from it, and offer up a fresh (or improved) take. The very fact that a market for your product already exists should spur you on!
  5. Talk to your customers

    The best way to understand the appetite for your product or service is to get out there and talk to your target audience. For example: book a booth at a low-cost local fair or festival, take some rough prototypes in various designs, and consult consumers on which design they like best, and what changes they would like to see made for the final version. You might find that you come away with a whole waiting list of people who want to buy your product when it’s ready!
  6. Dish out free freebies

    People can be reluctant to spend money on something new – particularly when it’s so new that it doesn’t even come with online reviews to reassure potential customers of its validity and worth. There are a couple of ways you could go about this: reach out to influencers with freebies, or home in on target groups. For example, if you’re developing something for music lovers, offer out samples of what you’re selling at a local music festival in exchange for feedback (just be sure to check on the rules and regulations, as you may need a permit).
  7. Let software do the hard work

    Nothing quite compares to tangible, measurable, trackable insights. There’s some incredible software out there (ahem…did anyone say Forsta?) that takes all of the hard work out of market testing and dips its toe into the metaphorical waters for you. Whether you’re expanding into a new region of the world, or you’re stepping into a whole new category for your business, market research software gives you the lay of the land so that you’re not fumbling in the dark.

You’ve tested the market – what now?

Once you’ve successfully carried out market testing, what’s next?

Hopefully you now have tonnes of insight, information and opinions to mull over (and by mull over, we mean carefully consider, analyse and act on). The whole purpose of market testing is to identify whether there’s an actual market for what you’re selling, whether your price point is realistic, and if changes need to be made before your offering is fit for purpose.

If you find that your price point is too high, you need to look at what you can change to lower the costs, without jeopardizing quality. Can the packaging be made more economical? Would you still make a decent profit from a smaller margin? Can materials be altered?

As for the product or service itself, this is the stage where you really need to take feedback on board. It can be difficult to accept criticism of something you strongly believe in and have spent time developing, but you have to take the emotion out of it. You want to make sales, and you want to be successful, so take every piece of feedback on board and iterate, iterate, iterate.

Then it’s time to work on your marketing plan…

How can Forsta help?

Forsta’s market research survey software can help you to test your market without breaking a sweat.

We’ll take you from the planning stages – where together we’ll work out what you want to investigate and plan an insight project to match – through to investigation stage. This is where we bring out the big guns: using a bespoke mix of tools – from video surveys and social media monitoring to on-the-ground investigations and deep-dive desk research – we’ll gather key insights to bring you the answers you’re looking for.

We’ll even help you to dig deep into the data for crystal clear insights that lead to critical action steps for your business. And we do all of this in a totally targeted, totally tailored way.

With an expansive suite of research tools to choose from, we’ll select the most relevant ones to help you get to grips with your market. By understanding you, your business, and what you’re trying to find out, our market research experts will design a unique blend of approaches to lift the lid on your target audience, deliver the big picture (and the finer detail), and offer up success-shaping insights for you to act on.

Request a free demo to see what we’re all about.

Market testing for the win

It might seem like testing the market is a whole lot of effort when all you really want to do is take your product (or service) and run with it, but hopefully you can see from our infinite wisdom that market testing really is worth the wait.

When you eventually get to rollout your swanky new offering with a great big launch, it’s far better to know that what you’re selling is needed, wanted, and fit for purpose. So, before you get too carried away, put your ear to the ground and greedily gather up all of the juicy feedback that’s out there just waiting for you.

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