Who are your consumers and why will they buy your product? Do you know, or are you assuming you know?
A real knowledge and understanding of your customers and consumers is the only way to be confident you are creating and supplying a product they wish to buy. Time and again, new businesses fail because they think they know what consumers want and find out too late that they don’t. A new product idea may be really brilliant but if the target consumer doesn’t shop where you are selling, then it risks failure.
The consumer is the person who will ultimately buy and consume your product. The consumer determines what attributes are valued in a product, and these can range from where they can buy it to what’s in it and how much it costs.
Focusing on understanding what the consumer wants and then working to meet those needs is the best starting point. If you can do this, it creates ‘demand pull’ rather than ‘supply push’, which means consumers will encourage customers such as supermarkets to stock your product because they want it. With this knowledge you can also work with your customers to refine the product to meet their needs without risking removing the attributes consumers demand. This is much more effective, and a much safer strategy than thinking up a new product and then trying to convince consumers they want it and customers to stock it.
To gain a competitive advantage, you and all of the businesses in your product’s value chain must understand and respond to consumer trends and concerns. Who is buying your product, why are they choosing that particular product and where are they purchasing it? What do they care about? This is where you research should start.
Customers are the businesses that buy your product to sell on to the consumer, for example, a retailer such as a supermarket chain or gourmet store. In order for your product to enter the market, it’s also important to understand what customers want from you. This can include how and when your product is supplied as well as what the product actually is and how much it costs. Once you have researched your consumer, it’s time to turn your attention to finding out about market opportunities, strategies and what your competitors are up to.