Conducting product research is essential for maximizing profits, but it’s also important because you never know when an item will be the next big thing. Research can help find items that are about to explode in popularity so you don’t miss out on potential profit!
Research Guidelines for Product Managers
After considering which game changer products you might be selling, now is the time to do some research into products. You’ll want to consider all sorts of things when deciding on a product, including personal preferences and guesses about current market trends.
And although your tastes are an excellent place for starting this process, don’t limit yourself by only researching items that meet these criteria alone!
Tap into the collective intelligence of your company
Find out what types of information are useful to other product managers and start looking there. This is a good way to get an overview of how features are prioritized, which products the competition focuses on, etc.
The process begins with a story
What problem do you solve for people? How will you make life easier for them? Where and when do they need this solution? What kind of person might need this solution? (For example: “The last thing renters want to worry about after moving into their new place is getting the Internet set up).
Lots of moving companies charge added fees just so clients can have someone come over and take care of their Internet setup. Great internet services, however, takes care of the entire process: from picking up and dropping off to running speed tests and helping with difficult tech problems at a reasonable cost. Determining the cost and keep it minimized than the competitors can be a game-changer.
Observe your potential customers
They are speaking everywhere so all you have to do is listen. There are many ways to observe people but we want to highlight two key approaches here:
- Focus groups/interviews (nothing beats face-to-face feedback);
- Social media listening (on Facebook, Twitter, etc).
Define your target customer profile
Who will actually purchase your product? Who needs it the most? What type of person uses other products similar or related to yours? Take time before starting any research phase to fully define this target customer profile.
Learn how your product fits into the current market landscape
It is very important to be aware of all key competitors, their products, and pricing models to understand what business model you want to pursue when there is a place for you on the market.
Get a feel for the competitive landscape
Differentiate yourself from the competition (low price? quality? simplicity?) which will help you decide if you enter the market as soon as possible or not at all (it depends on whether your research shows strong demand for your product).
You should also learn about best practices around building this type of application. For example, mobile apps are becoming more popular than desktop apps nowadays so there might be different standards you should follow to stay competitive.
Define your target market
No matter how in-depth the game changer products research is, the outcome will always be sub-par if the target market is not specified. You need to consider multiple factors to understand and define the target market before launching the thoroughly researched product.
Number of users
First, you want to make sure there is a large enough market for the product. You can do this by looking at historical data (how many people have similar products?) and current trends (how many unique visitors are on the websites where there are similar offerings?).
Type of users
Once you identify how big your potential market may be, determine whether it is still growing or not. If there are ways to expand into other markets with similar needs then go after them! For example, if people use smartphones more than desktops then we might as well build an app for that platform instead of focusing solely on classic desktop versions.
Don’t forget that people, especially those who use the web and social media (which covers most of us!) are constantly changing. The set of people is very dynamic so it’s important to keep up with trends and adjust your target market accordingly.
For example, mobile apps have become more popular than desktop ones lately so you should start looking into this new audience channel as well.
Find out where they reside by
- Setting up a survey through one or another website you know how to do;
- Visiting their home (remember there are UserTesting type websites for this);
- Reading comments from forums where your target customers may be discussing topics relevant to what you’re all about;
- Using your social media listening skills (for example, monitoring tweets by adding relevant keywords to your TweetDeck or HootSuite accounts).
For example, if we are launching a dating app then we might want to learn about successful matchmaking services and their common features. That way we can determine what will work best as far as age group is concerned for our future target audience.
This is another important direction of game changing products research that involves understanding how people think, act, make decisions, etc., especially concerning online behavior.
When it comes to mobile apps this information may also help us understand where the application should be placed on a device. For example, business applications should go in the business folder and social apps should go in the app store’s social section.
Define a specific product feature you would like to build
If we are talking about a mobile app, then it has to be something unique for its category or at least better than competitors’ offerings. Make sure there is sufficient demand for such an application before even thinking about launching it on the market.
On average, only 35% of new products survive. Just think what that percentage means — 65% will never see the daylight! Don’t waste a lot of time and money designing or developing something nobody needs as when it fails you’ll be losing your customers too.
Doing proper research upfront saves a huge amount of resources and gives much more chances for success. Here’s the list of things to consider in this phase:
Are there enough users for the service you want to offer? If not, then what is it going to take for them to start using your application (eg. new features, a free version with a limited set of functions, etc.)?
Do you think that the demand will grow over time (mac apps have lower installs than mobile or desktop ones)? Is it possible that they might need something different from what you are envisioning?
What do they have and how can you be better? Be sure that if there are noticeable shortcomings in their product offering, then someone else has already identified them and will eventually launch a superior solution too.
Don’t waste time and money on something that will eventually become obsolete. On average, companies keep losing customers at a rate of 5%-10% per month! That’s why you should always be constantly improving your product or service to retain existing users and attract new ones.
The main differentiator, here, needs to be a unique value proposition (UVP). What does your solution bring that other one to don’t? How will those benefits differentiate you from competitors? Why should people prefer yours over someone else’s?
Be sure that whatever UVP you come up with is easily noticeable and distinguishable as if it isn’t, then users won’t have any reason to choose your product over anyone else’s. If you can’t come up with the main differentiator right away, then look at competitors’ websites and catalogs for inspiration.
This is a measurement of how important it is for users to solve this specific problem. How bad will things get if they don’t have an app that solves it? Do they already know there’s something similar out there but still haven’t tried or bought anything yet? Is their life better without this kind of application on their phone/tablet? Once you can answer these questions, you’ll be able to give them enough reasons why they should start using your product instead of someone else’s.
If you’re struggling to find any new ideas, the best thing you can do is look at different categories of popular apps and websites.
Most eCommerce tools, social media, music streaming services as well as health & fitness applications have a lot of commonalities between each other and most importantly — they solve many universal problems. Here’s a shortlist that could give you some more inspiration :
- E-commerce (Amazon, eBay)
- Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
- Music Streaming Services (Spotify, Apple Music)
- Health & Fitness Applications (Fitbit, Google Fit)
After this brief analysis, you’ll be able to see that many apps and websites solve the same needs of their users. The most successful game changer outdoor products usually have a main unique value proposition that helps them stand out against all the competition. They may offer something flexible, accessible, or easy-to-use which can’t be found on any other similar platform.