How to include consumer input in every stage of product development

Each product or service you develop, and every change you make to those products and services, is done for the purpose of attracting more consumers.

Whether it’s a brand new product or a new feature added to an existing product, it is all done for the sole purpose of meeting consumers’ needs so that your business can draw more sales.

So if all of your product development is done with the end goal of satisfying consumers, shouldn’t your target demographic be involved in the product development process?

Too many businesses develop their products in a sort of vacuum, with no input from the very people they’re creating the products for. It’s not until the product is launched that they learn what they’ve created is not something people want.

The best way to avoid making this mistake is to gather input from your consumers through every stage of product development. Here are a few suggestions for how to do that.

Step one: idea generation

Where do your product ideas come from? If you’re like most businesses, you have a team of people in charge of product development.

You might even occasionally hold large company meetings to brainstorm ideas across departments. But if you’re not utilising your consumer base to come up with new product ideas, you’re missing out on an enormous wealth of potential knowledge.

Successful businesses like Unilever, the company behind big haircare products like Suave, use consumer insights to generate ideas for new products and marketing techniques all the time. In fact, it’s one of the techniques that has made them so successful.

By constantly gathering input from consumers, you’ll be able to identify pain points, learn how to better communicate with your target audience, and use the information they share to lead to breakthrough ideas in your business.

Step two: product testing

Once you’ve turned your breakthrough idea into a product, it’s important to test that product with a focus group before you go to market.

Oftentimes, those focus groups need to be held behind closed doors to maintain the confidentiality of your new product. However, the fact remains that you need your consumers’ input to move through this stage.

This is typically the one step in the product development process in which the majority of businesses will actually leverage their consumers’ input. However, it’s important to note here that you need to be properly managing this information with innovation management software.

Doing so will make it easier to identify trends in responses so that you can make proper adjustments to your product before releasing it to the public.

Step three: product improvements

Once a product is released to market, that doesn’t mean your job is over. Even if a product is perfect when it is released, consumers’ needs change with time, and technology is always improving.

You need to be able to make proper adjustments to your products in order to adapt to your consumers’ needs. But how do you know when your product is no longer meeting their needs if you don’t ever ask them?

For this reason, it’s important that you’re regularly asking for consumer input regarding how you can improve your product.

You might be surprised by the suggestions you receive or the points where consumers feel your product falls short. And those shortcomings can help you to keep your product relevant to the changing market—or help you to develop a new product that better fills consumer needs.

Of course, there are other, smaller steps throughout the process of developing a product. But throughout each or them, utilising consumer input and considering your customers’ needs will help you to develop a better product that will drive more sales to your business and bring you greater success.

Brenden Grant

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