How to Conduct Market Research for a Product that Doesn’t Exist

Though carrying out market research for a product that doesn’t yet exist may seem daunting, it can provide exceptionally important information for the development and launch of a new product. Why? It’s because altering a product once it is on the market can be pricey, particularly when compared to getting things right initially. Therefore, carrying out market research as part of the development process for a new product is an excellent approach to mitigating business risk.

Funny market research fail cartoon

So, how can you research the market for a product you can’t yet show to consumers?

1. Discover your target market’s interest

Firstly, identify the target market for your new product. You might do this through an initial survey, which asks respondents about their degree of interest in the potential product, as well as requesting information which will enable them to be placed within a segment. It may be more cost-effective to start by targeting individuals who are interested in a similar existing product.

Just note that if your findings tell you that people simply are not interested in your concept, it’s still valid research. Even the most comprehensive market research isn’t worth the paper you print the report on if you ignore the results!

Questionnaires can be an excellent option for getting a preliminary look at how people will respond to your product, while interviews can give more in depth opinions. There are a range of online tools for carrying out surveys such as Attest, with options available for every budget.

2. Create a prototype and get feedback

Once you have collected your initial data (and established that there is a market for your product-to-be), it is well worth creating a prototype and getting feedback. A prototype is a much better option than surveys; surveys have a range of disadvantages which can influence the validity of data gathered this way.

People’s reactions to a physical product may differ from their responses to the concept itself. If people suggest changes, don’t be afraid to take them on board. When it comes to market research, the customer truly does know best!

Developing a prototype incorporating user feedback

3. Get consumers involved in the process

Getting consumers involved at this early stage is a fantastic idea for other reasons – by including potential customers in your brainstorming and development activities, you’re ensuring that there will be people who are willing to pay for your product when it’s launched. Even better, co-creation means that you’re likely to create a few brand ambassadors along the way.

Consumers who have been involved in creating a product tend to get excited about it, and are likely to recommend it to friends and family. Numerous studies highlight the value of involving consumers as much as possible, as early as possible.


While it’s possible to conduct market research even before your product comes into existence, you should be aware that you don’t get stuck in the early stage. Don’t wait too long to eventually launch your product. Remember, Reid Hoffman once said, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Start building your product, launch it in timely manner and perfect it along the way – by involving your consumers and brand ambassadors, of course.