No one can predict with absolute certainty whether a product will be a success in the marketplace. There are steps, however, that developers can take to increase the odds of their products finding an audience. Prototype testing is the process of testing the original model on which a physical product will be based.
While many businesses believe that a prototype needs to be perfect before testing, the truth is that it’s wise to evaluate market response at an early stage. By testing a physical product with users now, you can avoid having to make expensive changes down the line while ensuring that the end results meet the user’s goals and desires.
Steps for Market Testing a Product
The following steps are crucial when testing a physical product in the marketplace.
1. Assessing the Market
When testing a physical product, it’s important to consider whether there’s an addressable market for it. After all, it doesn’t matter how great a product is if it doesn’t fulfill a current need in the marketplace. If you want to know what people are searching for, Google Trends is a helpful tool for assessing the interest level in an existing product. Not only can you determine the volume of searches for a topic, but you can also see whether an item’s popularity is increasing or decreasing.
Additionally, small businesses may want to consider crowdfunding as a platform for market research. Entrepreneurs can gauge market interest by proposing business ideas and products and inviting individuals and groups to donate through a variety of platforms. Along with allowing businesses to assess interest levels, crowdfunding is a great way to attract customer interest, thus helping you to market your product before it hits the shelves.
2. Define Expectations
Prototype testing is only useful if you first define clear objectives. Along with defining the goals of the test itself, businesses can increase the odds of success by considering variables like audience size, and by setting specific timelines for gathering results. Additionally, business owners should take time to consider all product features and choose audience participants accordingly.
3. Select Your Audience
Choosing the right audience helps ensure your physical product test is as useful as possible. When selecting participants, it’s important to try to mimic the composition of your desired market.
Along with factors like age, gender, and income level, consider whether users have prior experience with a given product as well as their general level of interest. If users aren’t interested in using a product, they may not pay close enough attention to its flaws. The end result is a review that is falsely positive and not as helpful as you might have hoped.
Additionally, business owners should start building a network of users early in the process. The goal is to make connections today so that tomorrow’s physical prototype test provides results that are as accurate and relevant as possible.
4. Create a Presentation
A good problem presentation can be a vital part of the market testing process. While a product presentation is designed to introduce an item to consumers, a problem presentation details the business’ understanding of the product’s biggest issues. The goal is to garner information from your market at the prototype stage, when making changes is less cost prohibitive.
Although it’s wise to create your problem presentation before testing a prototype, the hope is that your participants will raise these issues on their own. In general, you should focus on listening, and let your target market do the talking. Once your audience has provided a list of problems, and rated them by importance, you can start proposing solutions that meet everyone’s needs.
5. Suggest Solutions
It’s not enough to identify problems through your market testing; savvy developers also use the opportunity to suggest possible solutions to their target audiences. When presenting your ideas, concentrate on conveying the big idea rather than a laundry list of technical changes that may go over participants’ heads. Next, take time to observe your audience’s reaction and ask for feedback.
The goal is to ensure that your proposed solutions make sense and correct the most significant usability issues. You should then redesign any plans that don’t make the grade. Remember: this isn’t the stage for selling users on your product. Instead, use the occasion to collect invaluable feedback about your ideas.
Physical Product Testing Services
Businesses often assume that online testing companies only assess web-based products. but some sites also offer testing services for hardware products. Understanding that physical products must be distributed to beta testers, businesses like Centercode handle the distribution and tracking of prototypes for testing. Centercode also manages tester recruitment and assists companies in collecting the most valuable feedback.
It’s not enough to create a product that sounds good on paper; savvy developers must also ensure their products hold up to customer expectations and the rigors of daily usage. Testing your physical product helps ensure that your prototype has a market, and that the final product will meet your customers’ expectations.
If you’re ready to learn more about how to turn a physical product from idea to success, continue on to learn about the product life cycle.