Rising Rural Consumer Market in India.
“Last month I received a call from an ex-client and a friend. She had a new product idea and wanted to discuss if I would be interested to mentor her project. I met her over a cup of coffee and listened to her and her partner, passionately selling me their idea. The concept sounded good, and there was a lot of thought on the development. My next questions to them were obviously on market potential. Will this work in the marketplace? Will this be convenient to their target market? Will consumers adopt it on an immediate basis? Will they change habits to get more choice?”
Businesses exist today in a dynamic market, affording multiple choices to the customer. She uses many lenses to evaluate the suitability of all the available products she is aware of, and then makes a purchase decision. Start-ups have to overcome her natural intransigence for trying new products by convincing her that the product delivers! A startling statistic from Forbes says that 90% of start-ups fail, more than 40% of which are because the product did not deliver what the market wanted. Simply having a great product idea is not good enough, it depends on the user: who is using the lens, what lens is she using, and finally how does she evaluate the product, which will determine market place success. The evaluation layers are many: useful, convenient, attractive, and value for money! It is therefore critical that any business, be it a large organization or a start-up, understand their consumers thoroughly, design their products accordingly, test them so that the all the evaluation parameters are ticked, and track them for sustainable growth.
The cornerstone of any successful launch is a market research program, linked to the various stages of the startup launch process and customized to the sector, the customers, and the scale of the launch. Research helps not only to minimize risk by enhancing the viability of the product, but also facilitate course changes to the concept / product into a new avatar!
The UNDERSTANDING stage of research involves an evaluation of the Market, the Customers and the Competitors and helps define the opportunity as well as in the product ideation process.
Any new idea has to be evaluated on the basis of the current market size in terms of number of customers, as well as revenue, the competitive profile, the demographic or benefit segments under which the market exists, the growth patterns and the demand and supply factors, as well a detailed understanding of the customer profile. The market understanding process should include the regulatory issues under which the product will operate. The key areas to be included in the study of the customers revolves around three basic questions:
1. Who are the customers, what is their Profile? What are their media consumption patterns?
2. What are their Behaviour patterns – how do they use current / similar products, their buying behavior, switching between products / brands, etc.
3 What drives their behavior, what are their Knowledge and Motivations? How likely are they likely to believe new claims, how inclined are they to try new products, what drives their new purchase, how do they evaluate brands?
The Competitive profile analysis includes a study of their products and the core benefit being offered, how do they fit customer needs to their product benefit, pricing strategies, promotion strategies, and any demographic skews of their customer profile. It also tries to understand their business and service delivery model. A study of the three factors leads to identifying the potential customers, assessing the viability of the Idea and the size of the opportunity. It therefore shapes the further development of the idea into a working product. The DEVELOPMENT stage of the research is an iterative process by which the product goes through the Alpha and Beta phases and is fine-tuned and developed into a MVP. Typical researches include going back to the consumer with the developed product and testing whether it is delivering as per promise, the possible pain areas, how significantly different is it to existing products in the market and given all this, is the product promising enough to be developed into a minimum viable product. The third stage of Research is the ASSESSMENT stage, which is done during the Startup phase, and involves preparing for the Scaling phase. This is a two-part process. The first part of the process involves an analysis of the product’s interaction with the customers and leads