5 Essentials of Innovation

The failure rate of new products is commonly estimated to be between 80 and 90 percent. While the actual figure is a topic of debate and varies widely between industries, one thing is certain: Answering these five basic but crucial questions can help companies avoid the common pitfalls of a new product launch.

  1. Does the product fulfill the real customer need – or are you trying to create a need that may not exist?

    Market research can answer the simple and most obvious question: “Does a market exist for this product?” If a new product has no relevance to people’s lives it is doomed from the beginning. This may sound rudimentary, but company managers often don’t agree on what the customer need even is, let alone how the new product solves for it.

    Identifying people’s pain points, jobs and unmet needs is the foundation of innovation and successful product launches. Listening to consumers speak about their needs in their own words is the most effective way to confirm or discover real need.

  2. When it’s put to the consumer test, does your product actually do what you claim it can?

    Research can uncover potential problems, barriers and challenges that may be associated with the new product and help you gain a true understanding of how the product impacts people’s lives.

    Over-promising the benefit of what the product actually delivers is one sure path to failure. On the flip side, if your product solves for situations or problems you’d never considered, research can reveal these new opportunities. Examining consumer stories is the best, most direct path to potentially uncover product uses you may not know existed.

  3. Are you making assumptions about how your customers will feel about the product?

    You know what they say about the spelling of “assume.” A frequent mistake, especially among entrepreneurs, is assuming everyone else thinks like them. Sometimes research validates assumptions — but sometimes it doesn’t.

    Research helps companies understand people’s pain points, their mindset, and how they feel about potential needs and occasions of product use. Stories — and the language consumers use to tell them — are the only way to truly understand what’s going on in people’s lives and draw meaningful connections.

    A key element of effective concept testing is gathering feedback to fact statements about the product. Research should guide consumers to assess the importance of each statement, evaluate the meaning, and respond to it in their own words.

  4. Are you communicating the features and benefits of your product in a way that connects with your target audience?

    Marketing trends are shifting away from traditional benefit-focused messaging to emotional messaging and story-telling which do a better job of connecting products to people. The pharmaceutical industry does a particularly good job of using real people and their stories to sell products.

    The best research extracts respondents’ real-life experiences, thoughts, ideas and words to lay the foundation for developing a creative approach and messaging that will truly resonate with people.

  5. Does the perceived value of the product align with the pricing?

    Companies spend a lot of time analyzing pricing to make a new product profitable. But it’s up to marketers to determine if the price is appropriately aligned with the competitive landscape and what customers are willing to pay. Understanding your customers’ willingness to pay, their emotional drivers and occasions of use can help you determine if your pricing strategy is on target.

Idea/concept testing done right can help companies avoid costly mistakes and dramatically increase the likelihood a new product will succeed. It can also help businesses plan for the future by uncovering insights into how consumers think the product should evolve and what needs it might solve for years down the road.

Check out this case study to learn how Quester’s Quant-plus-Qual research led one start-up company to reconsider key elements of their product launch strategy.


  • Quester

    Quester is an award-winning consumer intelligence firm that harnesses the power of human conversation, artificial intelligence technology, and expert marketing research design to yield superior understanding of consumers for clients.

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