If you build it, will they come? Or use crowdsourcing to validate product requirements.

Product Requirements with Social Media

Product requirements development without true customer input is one of the most common reasons for a product failure to achieve its profitability expectations. The common practice of capturing this input is traditional market research methods of using customer panels and consumer focus groups. The results of these efforts are only as good as specific professionals conducting these studies that often lead to a very high costs, inconsistent results and unscalable processes. In my opinion, these techniques can be much more beneficial later in the Product Development process, at the Test and Customer Evaluation stage, when specific product assumptions can be validated.

Regardless of methodology you follow for development of a new product, at some point of the process you have to decide what segment of your market you are planning to compete in. That often involves a need to create and analyze a list of existing products your new product targets to displace, to identify target customers and what mechanisms to use for collection of their needs.

Careful analysis of experiences the customers had with the products you target to compete with, can provide invaluable insights into their original needs without any color commentary or interpretation. The critical, and often disregarded part, is that these people have actually spent their own money to satisfy their needs which make them uniquely qualified to provide you with very valuable information. Many of them, estimated 1%-2% total customers, have bothered to leave their comments and reviews on countless social media venues, such as retailer and manufacturer websites, user forums and customer communities.

“Traditionally, Marketing has had responsibility for defining customer needs and product requirements. This has tended to isolate Engineering and other development personnel from the customer and from gaining a firsthand understanding of customer needs. As a result, customer’s real needs can become somewhat abstract to other development personnel. Product development personnel need to be directly involved in understanding customer needs.”

Availability of customer generated product experience content allows all product development personnel to have direct and affordable access to understanding customer requirements.

The more intelligence you can find about your product segment of the market the higher is a certainty of your new product profitability forecast.

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