So you have a great idea for a new product? That’s amazing and I’d love to see you make it a reality. Before you go any further with it, please just pause and spare a few minutes to read this post. There’s a few things I’d like you to do to set yourself up for success – before you spend any money on samples, prototypes, or hiring anyone to design, or source it.
1. Be sure you know who your customer is and what they want
This is the first step to finding out what they need from your product.
I don’t just mean defining your customer at a high level – i.e. a new Mum. Take 5-10 minutes to really think about the person your product is aimed at.
- What stage of life are they at? (i.e. are they new parents, graduates, retired, etc.)
- How old are they?
- Where do they shop?
- What do they read?
- Which social media channels do they use?
Perhaps you have someone in mind who you can use as your muse. (Maybe that person is you!) If not, just take your best guess and don’t dwell on it too long. There’s no real ‘right or wrong’ here.
For example, for my own products, my customers are mainly Mums and they either have an interest in sustainability, or they just want to buy things that last, and they don’t mind paying a little bit extra for that.
(Remember, your customer is the person buying your product – not necessarily the person who’ll be using it.)
Once you have a clear idea as to who this is, the next step is to find them.
Maybe you know some potential customers personally, or perhaps you can find them in Facebook groups.
Now you have a sense of who they are, finding them should be a little easier. For example, if you’re looking for dog lovers, or keen runners, there are bound to be plenty of groups and forums with your ideal customers already there.
Once you’ve found them, go ahead and ask them some questions.
Now, I know this can be scary. You don’t need to say “I’m going to create X (whatever your product is), what do you think?” (which might not be ok in all situations anyway) if that isn’t comfortable for you. There are definitely other ways to go about it.
You could ask more generally – i.e. “Have you ever brought an X?” “If not, why not?” “If so, what did you think?”
A great question to try is:
“If you were buying an X, what would it need to do / be to exceed your expectations?”
Try this post for more detail on how get some relevant answers from your target customers.
Make sure you take notes of everything you find out here. This is key to creating a product that your customers actually want.
2. Take a good look at similar products
It’s really important to know your competition. Is there anything similar on the market now? If so, what’s it like, how much does it sell for, (does it even sell?) and what do people think about it?
You can find out all of this by doing a bit of online research.
I always use Amazon for this, as there’s a huge range of products and most will have reviews you can read and learn from. (And if the product(s) you’re interested in have no reviews, think about what this tells you too…)
Search for the product you’re interested in and take a note of the features, it’s selling price and what people say in the reviews.
You can also use a free tool to get an estimate of how many units they sell per month. (Get my free guide to find out how to do this.)
Now you know:
- Who your customer is and what they want and need.
- What other products are on the market – and what others think about them.
The next step is to take all of that knowledge and work out how your product is going to add value.
What I mean by this is, how can you:
- Create a product that your customers need?
- Improve on the products already on the market?
Give those questions some thought and note down your answers.
I’ll share an example that you’ll perhaps have heard before, about the creation of my bamboo hooded towels.
People were telling me (and it was my own experience too) that most towels on the market for newborns only lasted a few months at best. So I made my towel bigger.
I also found out that customers wanted a hood and I could see from my online research that the simplest designs tended to be the most popular.
I’d already decided on bamboo as a fabric (which has so many benefits) and I chose to keep my towels white and unbleached, so I wouldn’t be adding any unnecessary chemicals to a natural material.
Putting together size + the hood + great design + bamboo fibres + no added chemicals = a great product!
4. Validate your idea
So now you’ve carried out some research and put some thought into your product. The next step, before you even start to think about sourcing / manufacturing is to validate your idea.
You may now want to check in again, with your customers, to see that what you’ve created (hopefully just on paper at this point!) is what they actually want.
If you’ve got this far, congratulations!
By taking the time to read (and hopefully) implement these simple steps (which, let’s face it, shouldn’t take long) you’ve definitely given yourself, and your product, a huge advantage.
I can’t wait to see what you create!