Inventors often ask me about their chances of success. Well it’s hard for me to give an absolute answer. There are lots of products on the market that I don’t buy. There are lots of products on the market that I think are really stupid. However, somebody is buying them. That’s where the importance of focus groups can come in.
I thought pet rocks were pretty stupid but lots of people thought they were cute enough to buy. Regardless of what product you have, it’s highly likely you will have a target audience. Friends and family may tell you “it’s a wonderful idea!” But you can’t count on that opinion to mirror the real world. You need better market research and feedback.
If you are truly unsure about how your target audience will respond to your product, the most valuable advice I can give you is to arrange to have a focus group done.
Some focus groups are very expensive; however, there are some that are more reasonable. A focus group can answer many questions about your invention regarding pricing, names and trademarks, functionality, appeal and others.
Most focus groups allow you to direct the questioning so you can gather the specific information you need. Be aware that you should not be in the room while the focus group is taking place. You want the focus group to be about the product and not about you. Make sure you have good prototypes. The attendees need to see and touch in order to fully understand the concept of the product.
Also, don’t limit the demographics. Some of the best feedback comes from the consumers you don’t think will be your primary market. For example, I had an inventor who wanted only women in the focus group because he felt that women would be his primary buyers. What he found out was that the men liked the product better than the women and had better suggestions. Try to have enough people in the focus group so that you can have a wide range of demographics. Twenty-five or so will work.
The importance of focus groups lies in their ability to help you make better business decisions. Just because you think your idea is worth a million dollars doesn’t mean that enough consumers agree with you to actually put money back in your pocket. You can go broke without taking the time to gather the right information.
Your best option for finding a good focus group would be to contact your local chamber of commerce for suggestions. While they can be helpful, they can also be a rip off if you go through a big company.
You can also get in touch with a local meetup group and ask other inventors for help. If a local option isn’t available, check out this virtual meetup group. Archimedes’ Offspring Meetup Group