Product development is a long but exciting journey requiring a lot of knowledge, skills, and patience. Sometimes – it seems – little known companies get the process right just by playing it by ear, offering customers a perfect product that is selling better than a cold beer on a scorching July day in Death Valley. Other times well-established companies seem to struggle with the simplest of solutions, in the end putting on the shelves a product nobody even sees, let alone buys.
So what does success come down to?
Apparently, Market Research is one of the main factors, deciding whether you will be sipping cocktails on Bora Bora or drinking cheap wine in the alley behind your (soon to be ex) apartment.
Market Research is probably one of my least favorite pastimes…
ME: I have a great idea for a product, I want to start working on the product. Right Now.
MY INNER VOICE: But how do you know people need it?
ME: Because… it’s… great?
MY INNER VOICE: I should really ask people about their problems and if my idea solves them.
ME: Stop ruining my idea!
But – in the end – my inner voice is right. A company should really know their company’s customers, their problems, habits and what makes them tick. It is one of the key factors for a product’s financial success.
Italy’s chocolate king, Michele Ferrero, at some point in his career revealed, he made every company’s decision with »La Valeria« in mind. When the journalist asked him who Valeria is – thinking he would get a response »my wife« or »my mother« – Nutella’s creator replied that Valeria is every woman who steps into a shop, sees Nutella on the shelf and decides whether she would buy it or not.
So Michele Ferrero knew he needed to take steps and persuade La Valeria into buying that sweet jar of Nutella. But how to get to know your clients? How to find their opinion? How to see if they would buy your product?
As it turns out, there is a great new technology that can help you with that.
A VR Experience as a testing tool
Virtual Reality offers a new way of gathering user data. But let’s first mention what VR is.
A VR Experience is an immersive experience that transports the user to any virtual environment, where he can interact with the world and your product.
That means you can offer users a unique experience with your product. A product, that does not actually exist yet. And yes, you have guessed it. Seeing how the users interact with your product in virtual reality, allows you to learn what was well designed and what needs improving.
Why a VR Experience as a testing tool works
Virtual Reality can mimic reality. This means you can test how the users interact with your product depending on real-life parameters; parameters that a user would get in real life.
Are you running a cosmetics company and thinking about a new hair product? Put a user in a virtual shop, add your and competition’s products on the shelves and see which one the user chooses to buy. Run the test with a hundred users, then change the position of your product.
Play. Review. Repeat.
How do I get to my clients?
And I know what your next question is going to be. Where am I supposed to get enough user to test different scenarios? Well, there are a few options.
The most restricted of the options is to do closed testing. This is especially useful if you need to test a product on a very specific target group. The idea is to set up a VR system in a studio/test polygon and invite specific people to a testing day. After analyzing results, switching the group or updating the app and testing again.
If you need more people, or if your target group isn’t as specific, you can easily offer user testing at a live event with your target audience. There are thousands of people attending trade shows and expos and using their opinion to improve a product can be valuable to your company.
If you need loads of data, you can always share the experience via mobile app stores. That way you are immediately ready to gather tons and tons of data, bringing you closer to statistical analysis of your product’s use.
Be smarter than your competition
Testing your product and testing it early clearly has its advantages. Getting data, seeing how users use your product, how they interact with it and what they expect from it can be the difference between success and failure. So the main question is: Why take the risk of not gathering the data? Why put your company’s future sales in jeopardy, if there exists a simple solution to limit the risk of failure?
The obvious answer to the question: Price.
What is even more painfully obvious, but is nonetheless neglected by some companies: Investing in testing is far cheaper than not testing and failing with the product.
Be smarter than your competition. Test your products.