Early idea screening research to build winning products

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To stay relevant in a competitive market, companies need a continuous stream of new ideas to develop into new products. Each idea should be considered and screened to choose those that should move on to concept development. Idea screening is an integral part of new product development, and we’re going to discuss precisely what it is and how to execute it for the best results.

What is idea screening?

Idea screening is the process of evaluating new product ideas early on in the development process to ensure that they meet business objectives and customer expectations. This critical process reduces the risks associated with new product development by focusing on an idea with a higher probability of success. 

Reasons to use idea screening

There are a few reasons businesses use idea screening in their product development strategy:

Identify the most promising ideas

Not every product idea your team comes up with is going to fit the needs of your customers, be possible for your business, or even be a good option. Idea screening allows you to identify the most promising ideas for development.

Focus efforts and investments

Rather than go in several directions with ideas, use idea screening to focus your efforts and investments on the ideas with the most promise.

Validate ideas with niche audiences

Once you’ve identified your target market for your conceptual product, you can validate whether the members of your niche group are interested and have a need for your product.

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Using idea screening

Now that we’ve discussed the value of idea screening, let’s talk about the process.

  1. Start with a brainstorm

Before you can begin to screen, you must gather product ideas from multiple stakeholders, teams, and customers. Consider what customer needs you can meet, the urgency of those needs, the current landscape of products that meet those needs, and whether you absolutely have to create it, regardless of the market.

Review negative customer feedback for your current products, including complaints, to assess against your new idea. Does the idea address any of the complaints or problems?

This is the time to generate as many ideas as possible before you begin to eliminate product concepts that don’t align with your business objectives or screening criteria. Choose your screening criteria carefully. If you drop a product off your list too early, you may miss an opportunity. If you develop an idea that isn’t sound, you waste time and financial investment resources.

Need to hear from your customers? Find out how about their customer experience

  1. Evaluate ideas against certain criteria

For your product to be successful, it needs to be screened against specific criteria based on the needs of your target market and your company.

Examples of criteria to be used in screening each idea:

  • Market - Is the market for this product saturated or new? Is there a need for the product? What is the competition like?
  • Manufacturing - Will the manufacturing process be quick and easy or slow and complicated? Can it be priced reasonably for the target market?
  • Profitability -  How much profit will the company make once the product is on the market?
  • Audience - Will the product bring a new audience to your business? Will it meet the needs of your current customers? Is the audience for the product large enough to make production worthwhile?
  • Product benefits - Is the product relevant to the target market? Is it unique? How will customers benefit from the product?
  • Purchase intent - How does the target audience make purchase decisions for similar products? 
  • Branding - Does this product idea fit with your brand image, business objectives, and other branding efforts?
  • Technical feasibility - Do you have the appropriate equipment to create the product?
  • Scalability - Can it be duplicated with consistency that meets company standards without having to be adjusted or reinvented often?
  1. Do your research

Before you move a product from the idea stage to production, carry out qualitative and quantitative research to provide information about how your target market feels about your idea, as well as facts and statistics to support your conclusions.

Qualitative research

  • Focus groups bring people together to discuss your product. You’ll be able to gather information on what they are looking for, need, and want from a product concept like yours. 
  • Surveys collect similar information as focus groups but can include a wider audience. Surveys lack the discussion component but make up for it in the number of respondents.
  • Testimonials of your existing products as well as those of your competitors’ products, provide valuable information about what customers are looking for.

Quantitative research

  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analyses measure internal factors that can affect product success—such as design and price— with strengths and weaknesses, and external factors— such as industry size—with opportunities and threats. 
  • Political, economic, social, technological, and environmental (PESTLE) analyses examine other factors that may impact how your product is received in the market.
  • Idea screening tests yield quick insights into customer needs, are cost-effective, and provide high-quality data with built-in analytics.
  • Market analysis looks at the competition in your product’s market. It identifies competitors and their products in terms of pricing and marketing strategies.
  1. Launch concept testing and development

You’ve put together your ideas and performed your market research. It’s time to take the ideas that have made it through your screening and refine them into concepts. This means taking the idea and outlining the technical aspects so that your stakeholders and teams can review and understand it.

Using computer-aided design (CAD), photorealistic renderings, animation, sketches, drawings, and physical mockups will help others to visualize the finished product.

Next, you’ll move on to concept testing. The most common type of concept testing uses surveys to evaluate how consumers will receive a product concept before it goes to market. Ultimately, concept testing will either confirm that you have a great product idea or will help you avoid investing in a concept that won’t work for your market. Find out how Helix Sleep used SurveyMonkey products to concept test and launch their new pillow successfully. Use our ultimate guide to concept testing to learn more about doing it on your own.

Agile market research, like they used in the Helix Sleep example, is the process of gathering consumer feedback quickly and iteratively so you can gather data to make informed decisions with confidence. When you test your product concept with agile market research, you can find out your target market’s opinions and evolve and change the product as needed prior to launch.

In addition to product optimization, concept testing can reveal the importance of various product features as well as price sensitivity for the new product. 

Learn more about the methodology behind our concept testing. 

Of course, concept testing isn’t limited to your product concept. You can also use it to test consumer reaction to logo design, product or brand name, product claims and messaging, and your packaging. 

With all of your concepts tweaked and confirmed by data, your product launch will be a great success. And, you can measure that success with brand tracking.

Questions to answer when idea screening

When you’re in the idea screening phase, there are several questions you should take into consideration as you decide which ideas are viable.

  • Will the target customers benefit from this product?
    • Is there a clear benefit that you can elaborate on for your target audience?
  • What is the size and growth forecast of the target market?
    • Does your market research indicate that you are targeting a market that will generate enough revenue for your product idea?
  • Do these ideas appeal to our target audience?
    • SurveyMonkey Audience can help you determine your idea’s appeal.
  • What is their interest in purchasing these ideas/products?
    • Why are consumers interested in buying your product? What will it do for them?
  • How relevant are these ideas to our target audience?
    • Is your idea appropriate for the audience you’ve identified?
  • What are current and future competitive pressures for the product idea?
  • Can this product realistically be manufactured?
    • Do you currently have the means to manufacture this product, or will it require an investment in new equipment, technology, and expertise?
  • What are the most identifiable customer needs/wants that this product addresses?
    • Are these needs and wants high on potential customers’ lists? 
  • How does this idea fit in with our current product portfolio?
    • Is the product idea in line with your current brand and product lines?
  • What product are we replacing in the market?
    • What product is out there that you seek to replace and become the preferred solution for the customers’ needs?

Idea screening before you launch

Don’t take chances with your new product. Use idea screening and other market research solutions from brainstorming through product launch.

Screen ideas before you move into product development to ensure a successful product with our SurveyMonkey Idea Screening market research solution. And when you’ve confirmed your perfect idea, we can help with product concept analysis as well!

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