If you are on this page, you most likely have realised the significance of physical product idea validation to small businesses.

“My product idea is great!” you tell yourself.
“What could go wrong if your product idea is great!” your friends and family tell you.

You do know it’s your target audience who will pay for your products. After all, newly developed products are meant to solve a problem or improve user experience. So it’s vital to do your research from user-centric approaches.

It’s understandable that you do not want to complicate the process. Your research can be cheap and fast with the following methods.

  • Market research.
  • Analyse your competitors.
  • Evaluate what problems your products can solve.
  • Gain the latest business/industry insights.
  • Identify your target audiences.
  • Prototyping.
  • Pre-sales campaign.

Market Research.

Market research is a process of validating product ideas on ideation stage for businesses. The process helps you understand where you are, what, why, and how. There’re two types of marketing research: primary market research and secondary market research. The ideal solution is to apply both methods in your research. In this case, you don’t have to conduct primary market research as it can be costly. With the right methodologies, secondary market research is most likely the best solution if you have a budget. Here are a few simple ways everyone can do.

  • Analise your competitors

Competition analysis comes first for a reason. First, it helps you save a lot of time on product design and development. You will learn your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, which helps evaluate and position your products. Integrating qualitative and quantitative research is recommended as it can provide a complete guide to competition and strategy.

           o Qualitative research:

Quality research is conducted subjectively, without any metrics or statistics. The most effective way is to sort out the comments from product reviews. The study takes time but saves your time on decision making. In addition, it gives you access to consumers’ real thoughts on their products, so you will soon have a clear idea of what the users are looking for.

The gap is where the pain points come from. It lies the opportunities for your products and brand.

Here’s what you can do: 

   1)Go to their online stores (Amazon or e-Bay).

   2)List both positive and negative comments.

   3)Sort out the comments.

   4)Analyse your research: Ask yourself the following questions.

      - For positive comments: Can I do what they do? Can I do better than them? What is my cutting-edge competitiveness?

      - For negative comments: Can I solve their pain points? If can, at what cost? Will they buy my products (with a strong brand strategy)?

   5)Summarise your analysis: Remember to be objective.

            o Quantitative research:

Quantitative research is conducted objectively, with the support of metrics and statistics. There’re a few different ways you can use to discover your competitors: Google Trends, social media channels, Google Keyword Planner, third-party webmaster tools.

              - Google Trends:

The easiest way is Google Trends. It’s a free research tool that allows you to discover your competitors’ market shares by country/region. If you are developing a new product and want to ensure there’s demand, Google Trends lets you know how often users are searching for the products.

Google Trends data: searching “hardware startup” as an example.

Google Trends data: searching “hardware startup” as an example.

              - Social media:

You can also gain insights through social media platforms like FB, IG, Pinterest, and Twitter. The simplest way is to check out the products with hashtags.

Instagram data: searching “hardware startup” as an example.

Instagram data: searching “hardware startup” as an example.

             - Google Keyword Planner:

Google Keyword Planner is also a free tool. Compared with Google Trends, this tool gives you more insights. It requires some experience with using the tool, but it’s easy to learn. The tool provides the search results with terms and search volumes by searching keywords or phrases related to your products.

Google Keyword Planner data: searching “hardware startup” as an example.
Google Keyword Planner data: searching “hardware startup” as an example.

Google Keyword Planner data: searching “hardware startup” as an example.

          - Webmaster tools:
If you want to gain more insights, it’s recommended to invest some time and a small amount of money to dive into your competitors’ ranking keywords. Tools like SEMrush, ahref or Ubersuggest are very powerful at an affordable price.

Here’s why:
- The ranking keywords give you insights into what products are thriving or less prevalent in which markets.
- For the top-ranking products, the gap is your opportunity if you can solve problems they can’t.
- For less popular items, you get a chance to enter the game if your product idea is way better.

Here’s how:

- First, pull out your competitors’ ranking keywords from each country.
- Second, sort out the top and bottom 10 popular items in each country.
- Then, analyse the search results:
1) What makes those items so popular and less popular?
2) What makes each hot-sell item so popular in that region?
3) Can I sell my products to that region?

  • Product evaluation: what problems can your product solve?

When customers buy a product, that means it solves their problems. Your customers wouldn’t come back if your product couldn’t solve their problems even though you did an excellent job in branding and marketing. The problems you solve can be your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that will set you apart from other competitors.

  • Gain the latest business/industry insights.

In this fast-changing business world, it’s essential to gain the latest business and industry insights on ideation stage for your startup.

You want to ensure every decision you make hits the spot. You want your decision-making process to be much easier. You do realise insight analysis is a vital skill set that every entrepreneur should develop. This can be challenging, but it’s not a mission impossible.

Of course, you don’t have to go back to business school before starting your business.

You can gain insights from industrial reports, and there are part-time hardware startup accelerator programs you can join at a fair price to grow your business faster and sustainably, paving your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Identify your target audiences. 

A buyer persona is a great way to identify your target audiences. It covers some basic information about your potential customers, such as demographics, psychographics, and personality. Buyer personas help you understand who and where your customers are and a typical way of living.

To get started quickly, here’s a great example from Xtensio.

creating a buyer persona


The purpose of prototyping is to validate your product concepts and designs. A prototype, also known as MVP (minimum viable product), allows you to evaluate the early version of your product and find solutions to the problems to reduce the risk of failure. Prototyping is an experiment of validation to quickly gather real feedback from potential users.

Pre-sales campaign.

With a prototype, you should definitely implement a pre-sales campaign. It takes some time, but it’s worth it. You do want to know if people will buy products.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Create an eye-catching sales (landing) page.
  2. Showcase main features and USP with engaging content and graphics.
  3. Emphasise the pain points your product can solve with an FAQ section.
  4. Start your campaign with Email Direct Marketing.
  5. Give your pre-sales campaign a boost with a social media campaign.
  6. Gather feedback.

Key Takeaways:

The more (better) research you do, the more (better) you will understand your product competitiveness. To summarise, here’re the takeaways for you to get started!

  • Competition analysis helps you discover your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and the gap!
  • Product evaluation allows you objectively to evaluate what problems your product can solve.
  • Landscape analysis and a part-time hardware startup accelerator program let you grow your business faster.
  • Buyer personas help you identify your target audiences.
  • Prototyping & a pre-sales campaign evaluate your product concepts and gather real feedback from potential users.

For more business insights and free resources, join our ID Global Community and feel free to share your entrepreneurial experience with us!

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