Launch the product your customers didn’t know they really wanted

As Steve Jobs famously said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” While certainly not the proper approach for all designs, visionary products deliver solutions to problems customers didn’t even know they had, which begs the question – how can you conduct effective concept testing and product testing if your customers don’t exactly know what they want?

Think about the often told story of Henry Ford, who is said to have explained that if he’d simply asked people how he could improve transportation, they’d have asked for faster horses. Even though the origin of this quote has been questioned, the point remains.

You must give your customers the opportunity to provide feedback on your product concepts early in the new product development process so you can listen and use that feedback to enhance your product before going to market.

New product development should be grounded in customer communities

Recently, technology has opened doors to more effective concept testing and product testing methods that better inform new product development.

One of the biggest benefits is the ability to efficiently access a community of relevant product testers on a digital platform. These platforms make each step of the product testing process easy and effective by:

  1. Allowing you to attract and select target users based on specific criteria like lifestyle, location, activities and interests
  1. Giving users a fast and easy way to provide feedback about your product as they use it in real-world environments
  1. Helping you identify new product opportunities or validate concepts, and allow you to bounce sketches or mockups off of real future users so you can be confident in how your product will perform in the market
  1. Empowering you to take these valuable customer insights and apply them at the most critical points in your product development process

While visionary new product development requires brands to be out ahead of the current state, some may think their new product is perfect when it may actually miss the mark. Not uncommon. However, these product testing communities help ensure design or performance imperfections never make it to the public.

When users are given an actual product or prototype, that’s when the feedback is often most valuable. Going back to the Henry Ford example, if he had simply surveyed people about what they would want for improved transportation, it’s very likely the answers would be rooted in the world they already know –  i.e. how can we improve horses, rather than how else could we get around?

Only by presenting users with your new concept and listening to their feedback is it possible to develop a truly useful, visionary product.

Apple, for example, didn’t get to where it is today by ignoring customer feedback about its products. Before going to market, there is user data being collected and applied to help ensure each new product is a hit. That level of success is surely important for Apple’s brand because it is such a large and impactful company with a curated product offering, but it is also important for every brand involved in new product development regardless of size and assortment strategy.

And customers want to be part of the product testing process, too. Today’s consumer culture is more intimately involved with brands than ever before because of omnichannel approaches and other digital engagement technologies. By obtaining direct feedback from target users, brands can forge stronger relationships with customers while creating a more predictable product launch.

Besides, customers always want to feel listened to. The more closely the products they buy reflect their wants and needs – including the ones they didn’t know they had – the more loyalty and brand equity they can earn.

Gather your user community on a digital product testing platform and let them provide the valuable feedback that will help elevate your brand reputation with each product you launch.

Download our brochure and see what a product testing community and digital platform can do for your brand.