One of the most important steps when starting a business is validating your product idea.
Ensuring there is a market for your product is crucial and the last thing you want to do is commit time, money, and energy to your passion project, only to find out that nobody is interested in buying your product.
Validating your product can make or break your business before it’s even launched, and depending on your product and business model, there are various ways you can do it.
In this article, we’ll explore how to validate your product idea when you’re just starting out to ensure your business has the best chance of success.
Product validation is the process of testing your product idea with real people in order to see if there is interest and demand.
Conducting product validation allows you to determine if there is an audience for your product idea and prevents you from wasting time and money if there isn’t.
When conducting product validation the three main questions to ask yourself are:
- Can it be made?
- Should it be made?
- Will people be able to use it?
It’s crucial to validate your product correctly before you invest in it, but why? Some of the main reasons that make product validation so important include:
- It removes the guesswork – Once you’ve had a product idea it’s easy to believe it’s the best idea since sliced bread and that everyone will love it. The reality though may be different, and you can never be sure that people will want to buy your product unless, of course, you’ve undertaken product validation.
- It can improve your idea – If your target audience has feedback on your product idea, you can make changes and improvements before you release it to the market, making your product even better.
- It saves you time and money – Of course, the biggest benefit to conducting product validation is that it can save you a huge amount of time and money. Product validation ensures you don’t waste all of your money investing in a product that nobody will buy and also helps to highlight the areas of your product development where you should be investing your money.
Below we’ve created the ultimate step-by-step process for how to validate a product idea. Let’s take a look…
Understanding who your audience is and what they want is the crucial first step to product validation.
Researching your audience will allow you to identify who your key target demographics are and the audience segments with the most potential for purchases.
Find out where your potential audience engages online, from social media platforms to forums and marketplaces, and target them with surveys and focus groups.
When conducting audience research remember to ask questions not just about your product but about your target audience’s wider buying behaviors to ensure your whole business offering will be attractive to them.
Once you’ve determined and researched your target audience, you need to also assess your potential market.
Conducting market research allows you to gain an understanding of what similar products may already exist.
There is always the chance that someone else has had the same idea as you and is already successfully selling your product idea. This doesn’t necessarily mean curtains for your business, it just means you’ll need to ensure you can make yours better than what is currently out there.
Market research allows you to determine details such as how big the potential market for your product is, how popular your product may be and how much people would be willing to pay for your product.
You can find out more about how to conduct market research in our full guide.
Advice from the Experts
Top tip! A great way to get to grips with your market is to take a look at trending products online to see which products are proving particularly popular with different audience demographics at any given time. This will help you to predict how the market may react to your product.
Of course, it’s all very well to have an audience for your product but that’s not going to be much use if you can’t actually make it.
It might sound obvious but making sure your product idea can be manufactured to your specifications is an essential step of how to validate your product.
Imagine how frustrated you would be if you invested time and money into your online store, only to discover that it’s impossible to actually make the product you want to sell.
The best way to assess the manufacturing potential of your product idea is to contact manufacturers directly. Undertake some research to determine which manufacturer you would like to use and talk to them about what you want to create.
Advice from the Experts
Top tip! Where possible, try to be flexible with certain specifications when negotiating with manufacturers. If you have stringent requirements you may find it harder to find a manufacturer who can make your product for you.
Soft testing your product idea is a great way to get your product into the hands of your target market before you commit to a full-scale product launch.
Soft testing usually involves creating a small number of products that you distribute to key members of your target audience for them to use and feedback on.
Although you don’t make any money from sales when soft testing, you arguably get something even more valuable – audience feedback.
There are various ways you can conduct soft tests including:
- Create a focus group to send your product to and include a survey or feedback form.
- Send free samples of your product out to a small segment of your target audience.
- Create a pre-release sign-up form for people to sign up for the chance to receive your product before the launch in return for feedback.
When validating product ideas, making a few sales can go a long way to helping you truly understand how good your product actually is.
There’s nothing like exchanging money for an item to ensure people give honest feedback.
Once a customer has parted with their hard-earned money you will have a much stronger idea about how much value your audience places on your product.
If people are willing to spend money on your product, you can assume it is worth the cost you’ve assigned to it and that it will bring value to your audience.
Selling a small number of products allows you to determine how popular your product will be too. If you struggle to make any sales at this stage, it may be best to return to the drawing board before progressing further. If you need extra inspiration, our list of the best high-margin products could help!
Validating your product and creating a profitable business is all about being realistic.
When we come up with a business or product idea, it can be easy to get a little carried away thinking we’ve just developed the answer to world peace. The reality though may be a little different.
Product validation is all about removing your own emotions from the process and discovering if other people will love your product as much as you do.
While being realistic is important, not everything can be plain sailing, and sometimes when we truly believe in something, we have to persevere even if others disagree.
Major products, including the Apple iPod, all experienced setbacks on their journey to creation – but just imagine if Steve Jobs had given up. Our music listening experience would have never been the same!
No matter what other business owners might tell you, it’s unlikely that successful products ever started out on a whim. Instead, they will have been validated in a process similar to the one we’ve put together in this article for you.
While validating a product may not be the most exciting or the easiest part of your product creation process, it’s certainly one of the most important.
Of course, validating your product doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed success but you’ll stand a much better chance of attracting customers and making sales if you’ve taken the time to test the market first.
If you’re struggling to come up with a product idea in the first place then don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Take a look at our guide on how to source products to sell online for some inspiration.
Product validation is an important part of the process of creating your product because it ensures you won’t waste time and money on a product that is unviable. It also gives you the opportunity to begin building relationships with your target audience and make potential improvements to your product.
Product validation can answer various key questions such as can your product be made, whether it should be made, and whether people will be able to use it.
Yes! While your product is going through the validation stage you can still make sales, in fact, we recommend you do. Seeing if people are willing to pay money for your product will help you to validate it and ensure it holds its value.