Want to build a successful product? Mingle, Empathize, Ideate, experiment


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Secondary data describing consumption trends don’t always capture market complexities such as the underlying motivation that consumers have for making a purchase. That accounts for why adopting the product features of a thriving competitor’s product delivered on a research sales report into a targeted market segment may not translate to marketing success for your product when it is eventually introduced to the same or a different market.

Product communication strategies, the peculiarity of channel members, point-of-purchase signature contact, historical connection and the absence or presence of a unique retail infrastructure are also factors that can affect consumer presence for a product. 

These factors go beyond what fine ingredients (and parts) the actual product is composed of. Therefore, mapping out a product go-to-market strategy by merely relying on secondary data isn’t always going to provide sufficient market information needed to formulate a befitting product development and sales strategy. 

Precisely, shifting demography/ consumption data obtained from secondary sources hardly reflect the subliminal motivation driving consumers’ purchase actions. It is not the consumers’ fault though. They often hardly figure out why they are motivated to buy what they buy. Take, for instance, a good number of consumers in the United States who purchase Coke and Levi Straus do so because those products are simply ‘home brands’ steeped in their histories.

Such purchase motivation could be hard to unravel on data indicating demography changes, and consumption trends. Hence, effective product development efforts would come from testing the water first-hand to filter users’ experience, feel the market as well as gauge usage reaction. These are critical engagement levers that yield empathy, release vital insights for the product ideation processes and allow room for experimentation.

Here are a few steps to building your best products ever:

  1. Mingle – The market is made up of people. Meeting and interacting with these people is key to obtaining valuable insights into their beliefs, values and aspirations. Great entrepreneurs respond to people’s beliefs and values, not secondary data obtained from a separate market study.
  2. Empathize – By mingling with the real people in the market you would get to know them firsthand. With a little bit of patience, you also get to understand people’s thinking patterns. This would help you develop products that appeal to them on a deeper level.
  3. Ideate – Having spent sufficient time observing the real people in your target market, you should be armed with ample insights that could be harnessed to tap valuable business opportunities. These insights should be knocked into real products that directly connect with the people emotionally as well as meet their needs on the essential levels of affordability, thirst, and utility.
  4. Experiment – Launch a prototype of the product you have developed to get quality feedback from the market before proceeding into the full-scale marketing communication and distribution effort. By launching the prototype of the intended product first, you would be able to see if there are flaws in the product or a disconnect with the core desire of the users. It is easier to quickly refine the product at this stage to adapt to feedback from the market. This wise experimentation action could also avert the frustrating losses that often forecloses a business at the early stages.
Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka writes with simplicity and insight. He aims to enrich the Nigerian small business landscape. Through Hustle24 he connects entrepreneurs with information about new policies, enterprise solutions and opportunities that will aid their 'hustle'. He has written extensively for CobraReview, a product review portal, and served as a lead project manager for MarketingMix where he consulted as PR consultant for MTN Project Fame and Business Next Titan etc.


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