How Brands Can Use Product Testing to Enjoy Longevity in the Market, Even Amid Fast-Moving Trends

Across industries, the pace of product development has quickened to keep up with new trends.

These fast-moving trends are well-documented in the fashion industry. Key trends used to be measured in decades (think bell-bottom jeans or velour tracksuits), and shopping was more of an event. Now, shoppers can totally change up their wardrobe without even getting out of bed.

Greater accessibility, both in-store and online, coupled with consumers’ desire for products that are on-trend, new and fresh, have contributed to an accelerated product development process that isn’t limited to clothing retail. And with this acceleration comes a need for flexibility that is requiring companies to be more nimble; rethinking strategies, changing tactics and upgrading technologies to remain competitive.

How can brands keep up and launch successful on-trend products that will also enjoy longevity in the market?

The Difference Between Being Fast and Being Right

Innovation in product development technology and process supports the growth and evolution companies must undergo in order to compete in their industries and demonstrate that they are thinking forward, in line with consumer preferences.

The widespread use of the word “innovative” also means businesses really have to consider exactly how they are being innovative. But in that same vein, innovation is only valuable if you’re using it for good – that is to say, using it not just to develop products quickly, but products that meet your customers’ needs, connect with their perspectives and match their desires.

Companies have countless tools and technologies at their fingertips to drive speed in the product development process, but speed can increase the risk if brands do not also embrace the product testing process and gather insights from their target customers. Only when a product development process is infused with the customer voice can a company know whether it’s got the right product to go to market with.

Knowing the Trends Means Knowing Your Consumers

On average, food producers spend 2 years developing a new food product but face a failure rate of 90% once that product hits the market. That number is a clear indicator that these new products are not in line with consumer demand or trends. And that’s just the food industry.

Co-worker product testing and focus groups are tempting strategies for tapping into consumer sentiment, but they are inherently lacking in the comprehensive feedback many brands need to ensure success when their product hits the market. Leveraging a community of true target users who can bring your product into the real world and use it how it’s meant to be used is the surest way to not only launch a successful product, but improve or update a product to keep it relevant among changing trends.

Companies who have adopted this step within their product development process have seen significant return.

When it comes to product development, the trends you need to understand go beyond neon, 80s-style ski suits or lighter road bikes. It’s about knowing how products are being used – what nuances of a product’s design make the difference between a positive and negative consumer experience? When customers begin using a rain jacket for activities beyond simply weathering a drizzly commute, like a 2-day hike on a weekend escape to the Adirondacks, those trends are what brands need to know about, too.

Regardless of the size of your company, it’s critical in today’s fast-moving consumer landscape to tap into your target user community and understand the trends that are driving product preferences.

Whether you’re developing a new product or improving upon an existing one, trends are driving market success (or failure) and you can be trendy and successful with the right approach to product development.

Tapping into your user community is easy.

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