Falling in Love with a Concept

Why focus groups and market research are a must

It was love at first insight. Perhaps you were sitting alone at the bar or hanging out with friends, when out of nowhere it caught your mind’s eye. It was everything you hoped for – everything you dreamed. It was beautiful and creative, and before you knew it, you couldn’t think of anything else.

Fast forward six months. Now you’re beside yourself and despondent, torn up by how things went wrong and how it shouldn’t have been this way. You look back and try to determine where mistakes were made and how it could have ended up like this.

No, it’s not the tale of your last relationship – it’s the story of your last great idea. Or at least, it could be if you aren’t careful. In the spirit of the month of love, let’s discuss why to never fall head over heels for an idea.

Loved and Lost

In our story above, the love of an idea seemed wonderful – until it all fell apart. This happens all the time with new products launched that flop or new services that never sell. But where do these concepts go wrong? Most likely, right from the start.

In relationships, there’s a period of courtship – those first dates where you learn all about the likes and dislikes and see how your personalities mix. There’s a similar courtship in business – it’s just called market research and focus groups.

On paper, a shiny new idea can seem like the silver bullet you’ve been seeking – financially viable, filling a perceived need, and offering a profitable new service or product to add to your business portfolio. But is it really all of those things? Sometimes it’s hard to look at an idea critically because of the excitement of the moment. But a stark assessment is exactly what you need in the world of business.

Wise Men Say …

… Only fools rush in. A hit love song for decades, and lyrics you should heed as a warning when it comes to considering any new idea.

While your concept seems great, it’s always best to step back and actually vet your idea before you get carried away. It’s easy to get carried away with thinking your idea is infallible, but stopping to consider your concept can prevent you from ending up heartbroken. That’s where market research comes in.

As Entrepreneur points out, one of the first things to consider is whether your new idea appeals to your target demographic. You may love it, but will your customers? A few things to ask at this stage are:

  • Does it solve a problem?

Ideas that can eliminate a pain point for the consumer have value. If you can make life simpler, faster or easier with your solution, you may have a winning concept.

  • Does it provide value to the consumer?

While your idea may be a solution, is that enough? Some ideas can solve problems, but not ones that are severe enough that a customer is willing to make the investment.

  • Is there a demand for the product or service?

Are people complaining about the issue you are setting out to solve? Is there room in the market for what you have to offer? You can make a great product or offer a comprehensive service, but if there’s no demand to buy it, it doesn’t do anyone any good.

  • Is there a large enough market for your product or service?

What value is there to an alarm clock that only goes off at 6 a.m. on Wednesdays that fall on the 14th day of a month? In 2018, it would go off only three days. Sure, that’s an extreme example, but it makes the point. If only a few potential customers could benefit, its unlikely to be a viable market.

  • Is your solution purpose built – not too broad in focus, but not too narrow to be a niche offering?

Your idea needs to solve the target problem well, but also provide appeal. If it’s too broad of a solution, more specific solutions are likely to prevail, but if it’s too narrow, it won’t offer enough value. You need to strive for something like the Swiss army knife – versatile, but designed to provide a compact and much-needed solution.

If the answers to the above are all “yes,” you’re well on your way. If it doesn’t, take your idea back to the drawing board and make tweaks and changes to make sure it’s able to answer each of these questions capably.

Stay Focused

Focus groups are the other part of getting feedback on whether your idea is destined for success or failure. Sticking on the theme of love, as you move from your first dates into a steady relationship, eventually you need to ask friends and family for their opinions. That’s what you’re doing with focus group testing.

For your product or service idea to last, you need it to also be appealing to those around you – specifically, customers. Focus group testing gives you the chance to get a feel for how well your new concept or solution can survive in a real marketplace. After market research, you may think customers will line up to buy, but focus group testing can be your sort of “soft launch” to see how real consumers perceive your product.

Focus group testing also provides you fresh perspectives and insights that you may not have considered before. It’s easy to see only the positives in your own idea, leaving you like a horse with blinders, unable to see things from a different angle. Take, for instance, the Pasadena Pool Float from Aquaria that went around on social media last year. As Circa reports, it’s a prime example of why having a diverse focus group consider your product or service can open up your eyes and give you a chance to make adjustments and changes to your product design or service description before taking it public.

Same Idea, Diverse Opinions

The same story of a pool float is also a cautionary tale about including a diverse range of participants in a focus group. Men and women are different. Older and younger generations are different. People from different ethnicities, different economic backgrounds, even different religions – you guessed it, they’re different, and all can provide distinct opinions and perspectives that you may not have considered during your research and development.

Take a look right here at Western New York, and even our own backyard here in Lockport. According to Niche, some of the most diverse suburbs of Buffalo – as scored by considering the racial, income and age diversity indices from the U.S. Census – are in Niagara County. These include Niagara Falls (No. 1), South Lockport (No. 4) and Lockport (No. 5). With such a range of potential participants available nearly, Lockport is an ideal location for you to take your idea for focus group testing – and we know the perfect place to do it.

Host a Focus Group

Space Between offers three distinctive spaces, with ample room to host small and mid-sized groups to conduct focus group testing. With The Escarpment, Low Bridge Room and Towpath Hall all available, you can conduct multiple sessions at one time – and at one place – allowing you to get a diverse and varied range of input and opinions.

You can also use Space Between for planning, marketing strategies and more. You can also lean on our range of experienced professional facilitators, helping to lead your focus group or strategy session and get the insight and direction you need to make sure your new idea finds love in the marketplace, and not heartbreak.

Stop in and take a tour of Space Between today, or call us at 716-433-7688 ext. 104 to learn more.