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Work out if your product will sell

  • Blog
  • 24 March 2016

There are many times in business life when a functioning crystal ball would be useful, not least when you are trying to determine whether your great new product will translate into great sales and healthy profits. The truth, of course, is that there isn't a failsafe equation for working out how a product or service will be received: there are just too many variables that can impact on new enterprises.

Work out if your product will sell

Large companies are able to devote significant resources to research and can use the resulting business data and marketing data to inform their decision as to whether to launch their new product. For smaller businesses, funds for market research can be scarce. There are, however, several cost-effective and accurate ways in which to gauge the public's reaction to your new offering:

Research

This has a number of strands. Firstly, is there a genuine gap in the market for your product? Discussing your idea with colleagues and business contacts is a good starting point. E-mail is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to contact large numbers of current and potential customers. Online research can also be hugely helpful. For example, if you have developed a kitchen utensil, it may be worthwhile checking out the busier cookery forums to see how your idea is received.

Secondly, can your product or service be delivered at a price point that is acceptable to the market? This will involve intensive research on development, production and marketing costs to come up with a ballpark cost for each unit. Once you have established this, go back to the contacts mentioned above and ask whether they would find the price acceptable and whether there is any "wiggle room" on cost. In other words, at what point would the product become too expensive to sell?

Do a trial run

The "pop up" has recently appeared in the news because it has been taken up by so many prominent restaurateurs. It isn't a new phenomenon, however, and many retail businesses have tested the water by selling their products in a temporary location. Many towns and shopping centres have small units available for short term lease and they present a great opportunity to show off your idea and see how it sells. On a related note, are there any upcoming local events where you can sell samples of your wares? For example, if you have created a delicious new range of pastries, can you rent a stall at a local food festival? If so, it is worth giving customers your business card to see if you get any requests or referrals.

Use support networks

There are many local business networks throughout Britain and these will be happy to offer advice and to help you get your idea off the ground. Likewise, organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have the resources to provide expertise, support and assistance with the commercial issues that are so central to launching a new product. They can, for example, help with business leads. On an on-going basis, they can advise on the technical aspects of running a business, helping to minimise costs and navigate the occasional roadblocks.

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