A Step-By-Step Guide for Conducting Better Product Discovery
Product discovery is one of the most important parts of creating a successful brand. Carefully and successfully following this process and practice is often the difference between a product that’s a hit and one that falls by the wayside. Here are a few guidelines to help you create better products and ensure that what you are investing your time and money into will be paying you back dividends in the long run.
Step Zero: A Deeper Dive into Product Discovery
To ensure that your product discovery is as beneficial to you as possible, it is critical that you fully understand the concepts that lie behind good product discovery. So before diving into the action steps, let’s take a deeper look into this process.
Product discovery is the process of learning what your customers want so that you can more fully and directly appeal to their wants and needs with your products. It is learning how your customers are thinking and why they want what they want. It involves researching and reaching out to the consumers so that you can make sure that the products and the features you implement into your products will be what the customer wants.
As designers and creators, it is very easy to get caught up in an idea that seems very appealing to us. We can put days, weeks, or maybe even years creating something that we have never seen before and is personally exciting to ourselves. But often, amid creative inspiration, it’s easy to lose sight of the focus on commercial viability. We can end up making products that are too niche for commercialization, or too heavily featured, or too costly to the consumer or the company.
That’s why product discovery exists. It checks and balances the space that lives in between creative inspiration and commercial viability. It’s all about learning how to understand the consumer and create products that can appeal to familiarity as well as innovation. It might mean that some products get scrapped, but at the end of the day, it’s a process that will ensure that the products you do release will almost always be surefire hits.
Step One: Listen to Your Consumers
One important thing to remember: The best people to go to when you want to know how to appeal to customers more is your customers. These people are called your target market. To create a product that is going to appeal to them, you need to figure out who these people are and why your products might appeal to them. Once you know that, you can get into the depths of the process of product discovery.
There are countless ways to find this information from your target market. You can do surveys, market research, and even look at the general customers of close competitors. Do whatever you can to find out who your customers are and why they are looking for products.
Another important thing to remember is that you might need to take a more critical look at the ideas you have on the inside when you’re looking outside. You need to ensure that all of the ideas you and your designers are trying to create are in close line with the products your consumers need. Every product that is ideated and designed within the company should be filtered through the end consumer’s needs and wants, not the other way around. That can be difficult sometimes. It might take some honest humility to let go of a concept that you’ve already poured a good amount of effort and energy into, but at the end of the day, you’ll be glad that you let it go in favor of a more commercially viable product.
This step’s end goal is finding out if there are customers that will purchase the product you want to make. If you go to the outside world and don’t find a target market that needs what you’re creating, then it’s best to pull the plug as soon as possible. However, if you find a healthy and hungry market for the product you want to make, that means you can and should move ahead as soon as possible.
Step Two: Find Your Product’s Problems
When designing your product, you want to make sure that you’re going to be creating something that satisfies a need. If you’ve found the need and you’ve conceptualized a product that will fill it, next comes the step of analyzing your product to make sure it’s as good as possible.
Something that you should focus on when creating your product is that it needs to be usable to that market, useful to that market, and capable of consistently being created by your company. You want to look at the product as realistically as possible, through the eyes of both the consumer and your business. Make sure that you create something that will be accessible and functional so that in the long run, you have a successful product.
The best way to do this is by putting the product in front of people who live in the target market. Get the product around these people, let them put their hands on it, and get as much honest feedback as possible. You want to get the ideas of people who are outside of the sphere of its creation so that you can have honest feedback on the product itself. This can mean making prototypes, creating focus groups, and even doing research and surveys surrounding already existing products.
When releasing a product, getting external feedback is almost always the difference between creating a product ahead of its time and being reliable and beneficial to the customer. Make sure that everything you do and create is put in front of a large number of people, and you’ll be sure to make more and more commercial product successes.
Step Three: Involve Your Target Market in Your Product Development
The best product is the one that achieves what the customer wants without going too far in any other direction. Many times, the most successful products are the ones that are plain and simple yet have all the functionality and usefulness that the customer wants. When designing a product, find what the customer wants, and try and trim as many of the extra details as possible. Often, these excessive details are what will deter customers from looking at your product, and cause them to favor simpler, more accurate products.
In following with that, try and create a stream where your customers feel heard by you. Help them to feel like their thoughts and opinions are valuable and influential to the products you make. Learn about their specific needs and circumstances because if one person has a specific concern, it is more than likely that another customer is going to have the same problem. Learn the specifics about the people that follow your products so that you can level up their thoughts to a wider and more general playing field.
Another highly beneficial aspect of letting your customers interact with your product designs is that it creates loyalty. When a customer feels like a company personally values them, they are more likely to spread the word about your products, in turn getting you more customers, as well as more loyalty. It’s a win-win scenario, no matter how you look at it.
What We’ve Done
Here at Harper+Scott, we’ve done countless projects incorporating the Product Discovery process. It’s one of our most used ways that we work and create products, and we’ve used it across countless projects and brands to great effect. Here are a few examples of how we’ve used it.
Philosophy Nature in a Jar Mailer
This project reflected the essence of Philosophy’s natural, vegan “Nature in a Jar” collection through a mix of biodegradable and recyclable materials. A client favorite was the seed paper sleeve which grew a variety of wildflowers when planted.
Custom Designer Avion Bottle Glorifier
This project was based on finding a way to glorify an already gorgeous-looking product further. We analyzed the design itself as well as the locations in which it would be displayed to create a product that would display pure elegance and vibrance wherever it was placed.
Lancôme Juicy Tubes Mailer
This product was created to reflect early 2000s nostalgia in honor of Lancôme’s iconic Juicy Tubes lip gloss relaunch. The zip-around influencer mailer resembled a CD case with an acrylic insert CD replica that featured a list of the 20 Juicy Tubes shades styled to look like song titles.
When you’re trying to create the best products, the most important thing you can do is listen to the people who buy them. That’s what the product discovery process is all about. Once you master that, your products will be taken to an entirely new level, as well as your business. Invest your time in mastering product discovery now so that the profits of your work can truly pay off in the end.