October 4, 2023
14min read
Idea Validation

Product Validation: Why It Matters, Step-by-Step Action Plan, Free Tools & Resources

Wondering how to make sure your product idea is worth investing your time and resources? Check out our comprehensive guide on product validation, and learn how to validate your product idea, step-by-step. Plus, get free tools and resources to help you along the way.

Table of contents

Product validation is the process of determining if a new product will be well received by customers before it is launched. However, it also involves validating that the product can be built as a working model, has technical feasibility, and meets the customer's and entrepreneur's expectations.

Without validating your product before the launch, the risk of its failure is higher as product development is only based on guesswork and assumptions.

So, it is important for you to master the art of product validation. Here this comprehensive guide, here’s what you can expect to learn:

  • What Is Product Validation?
  • How To Validate Your Product Idea?
  • An Actionable Plan For Product Validation
  • Expert Tips For Getting Unbiased Data And Resources
  • Best Tools And Resources For Product Validation

So without further ado, let’s dive right into the guide.

What is Product Validation?

Product validation is a critical process that involves testing and verifying the viability of your product idea in the market. It's not just about having a fantastic product idea but also about ensuring that it's technically and economically feasible to build and meet your target customers' needs. The process of testing the viability of an idea before committing resources to it is known as idea validation.

In simple terms, product validation solves the common dilemma of having a fantastic product idea but still needing to figure out its success in the market. However, more than just verifying market demand, product validation must also validate that the product can be built and has technical feasibility. This involves testing the working model to ensure it is close to the envisioned solution by the customer and you and that it's possible actually to build a working product or MVP.

Why is Product Validation Important?

Before investing time and resources into developing and launching a new product, it's crucial to validate your idea to ensure its viability in the market. Here are a few more reasons why product validation is necessary:

  • Ensuring better product-market fit: Ensuring better product-market fit is crucial for the success of many startups. In fact, studies have shown that 35% of startups fail due to a poor product-market fit, meaning that the product doesn't meet the needs and wants of the target market. Validating your product before launching it is crucial. It helps ensure that your product fits the market well and meets the technical and economic feasibility requirements. Furthermore, by validating your product idea, you can increase the chances of success in the market before investing a lot of time and resources.
  • Connecting with Customers: One of the key benefits of product validation is that it helps you listen to and connect with your customers. This also involves validating the economic feasibility of your product to determine whether your customers are willing to pay for the product. If so, how much are they willing to pay?  This information can help you to optimize your pricing strategy and ensure that you are providing a product that meets both the needs of your customers and your business goals.
  • Eliminating Uncertainty and Reducing Risk: Product validation eliminates the guesswork and uncertainty that often accompany product development. Instead of relying on assumptions and gut feelings, validation provides factual data and insights about your product's viability in the market. This process is known as market validation, which is crucial in ensuring the success of your product.

8 Surefire Ways to Soft Validate Your Product Ideas

So, you've got a fantastic product idea –  Congratulations! But before you jump into full-fledged development, it's crucial to validate your idea and make sure that it meets the needs and wants of your target audience. That's where soft validation comes into play. 

Here are some of the best ways to soft validate your product ideas:

1. Decent Search Volume of Core Keywords and Related Terms

Are people actively searching for solutions related to your product idea? Use keyword research tools to determine the search volume for your core keyword and related terms. High search volume is an excellent indicator of demand for your product.

2. Existence of Several Competitors Offering to Solve the Same Problem 

Don't be discouraged by competitors' presence –  This is a good sign that there's a market for your product. But before launching your product, it's crucial to validate the problem you're trying to solve. 

This process of problem validation is essential to ensure that you have a viable market for your product. Just make sure that you have a unique value proposition and approach that sets your product apart.

3. Validation from Customer Validation Interviews

Speak directly with potential customers to gather feedback and insights on your product idea. Ask open-ended questions and listen closely to their responses. This is a valuable opportunity to understand their needs, pain points, and willingness to pay for your product.

Also read: Customer Validation: Guide To Validate Your Customer Base, Along with a Suitable Go-To-Market Strategy

4. Positive Feedback from Polls, Surveys & Other Entrepreneurs

Polls and surveys are a great way to gather insights and feedback from your target audience and industry experts. And remember to tap into your network of entrepreneurs –  They may have valuable feedback to help take your product to the next level.

5. Sufficiently High Interest in Joining the Pre-Launch Waitlist

By measuring interest in your product through a pre-launch waitlist, you can gain valuable insight into the potential success of your product. A high sign-up volume is a great indicator of sufficient interest.

6. Successful Product Hunt Launch

Launching your product on Product Hunt is a fantastic way to validate your idea and get early feedback from the community. One example of a successful Product Hunt launch is that of Zapier, a web-based automation tool that was launched via Product Hunt in 2012 and has since then become one of the most popular automation tools in the market. This not only resulted in valuable feedback but also a better understanding of how potential customers received the product.

7. Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding can be a powerful tool for validating your product idea and gathering early feedback from potential customers. One notable example is of Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, which was launched on Kickstarter in 2012, and raised an impressive $2.4 million from over 9,500 backers, making it one of the most successful campaigns on the platform at the time. 

8. Pre-Orders

Pre-orders are a potent tool for soft validating your product idea. By gathering a list of customers willing to purchase your product before it's even built, you can gain valuable insights into the willingness of customers to pay for it.

Also Read: Problem Validation: 5 Simple Ways To Validate Your Customers' Pain Points Based On Evidence

Product Validation: A Step-by-Step Action Plan

Bringing a new product to market can be an exciting and challenging journey, but validating your idea before investing too much time and resources is essential. Let’s break down the product validation process into three main steps and understand them one by one.

Step 1: Preparation & Prerequisites

Before getting deeper into the nitty-gritty of product validation, it's crucial to prepare properly and ensure that your efforts are focused and effective. Let’s now look into these aspects in a bit more detail:

1.1. Define the Scope of Your Product Research

Before you move ahead, it's important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. Defining the scope of your product research will help you stay focused and gather the right information to validate your product idea.

Consider questions like:

  • What are the key features and benefits of your product?
  • Is it possible to build a working prototype of your product?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What pain points or challenges is your product solving for your target audience?
  • What key metrics will you use to measure the success of your product validation?
  • What resources will be required to build and develop your product?

Furthermore, to validate the economic feasibility of your product, consider questions such as:

  • Are there any technical limitations or challenges that need to be addressed?
  • What are the expected costs of production, and is it economically viable to produce the product?
  • What is the potential market demand for the product, and what is the estimated revenue?
  • Are there any potential regulatory or legal hurdles that could impact the product's economic feasibility?

1.2. Define and Build Your Target Customer Persona 

Understanding your target audience is crucial to validate the economic feasibility of your product. By creating a detailed and accurate customer persona, you can better understand what your customers need, want, and like, and how much they are willing to pay for it.

In addition to basic demographic information, consider including details about your target audience's buying habits, preferences, and pain points. By doing so, you can develop a product that is not only technically feasible but also economically viable.

1.3. Define and Identify Your Competitors

Checking out the competition is a smart move to validate the economic feasibility of your product. Identifying your competitors and understanding how they present themselves in the market can help you identify potential challenges and opportunities for differentiation.

In addition to analyzing your competitors' products and services, consider factors such as their pricing strategies, marketing tactics, and target audiences. By doing so, you can develop a product that is technically feasible, economically viable, and stands out in the market.

Step 2: Research & Analysis

At this step, you'll gather all the information you need to validate your product idea and ensure it's a hit with your target customers. Each piece of information you gather will help you see the bigger picture and understand your market and customers more deeply. 

2.1. Estimate the Market Size

This step is all about figuring out how much demand there could be for your product in the market. To do this, you can use various research methods, like market studies, industry reports, and data analysis. 

Additionally, it's essential to validate the economic feasibility of your product by analyzing the cost of production, market demand, and potential revenue. With this information, you'll be able to make informed decisions about your product's positioning, pricing, and marketing strategies. Also, don’t forget to validate your findings with message testing.

2.2. Analyze Competition

Take a closer look at your competitors and see what they are doing well and where there might be room for improvement. Analyze their products, marketing strategies, and customer feedback. This will help you identify opportunities to differentiate your product and stand out in the market. 

2.3. Gather Data and Customer Feedback

Once you have analyzed your competitors, the next step is to tap into valuable insights about your target audience, including their needs, wants, and pain points. It will allow you to make informed decisions about what features to include, what price to set, and how to market your product effectively. 

To determine the right price for your product, conduct price testing. You can get a better understanding of what price points are most appealing to your target audience and adjust accordingly. 

Also read: Message Testing: How to Conduct, Proven Methods, Tool Recommendations & Best Practices

2.4. Validate Technical Feasibility 

Before you jump in headfirst, check if your idea is technically feasible. This will give you a clear understanding of what's possible and not when it comes to your product idea.

Consider factors such as available technology, development resources, and budget to make sure your idea can become a reality. With this information, you'll be able to make smart decisions about your product development plan and confidently move forward.

Step 3: Test Your Product & Validate Your Hypotheses 

This step is all about testing your product and validating your hypothesis through the process of concept validation to see if your product is viable and valuable to your target customers. Can you actually build a working product? Is the working model close to the visualized solution by the customer and you? And most importantly, is it economically feasible? 

3.1. Build MVP

Once you've validated the feasibility of your product, it's time to build a minimum viable product (MVP). This simple, stripped-down version of your product allows you to test your idea with real users. By creating an MVP, you can validate your hypothesis and determine if your product has real demand. Check out these MVP examples for inspiration.

3.2. Test the MVP for Real Use Cases with Real Users (Potential Customers)

Next, you must test your MVP with real users in real-world use cases. This will give you valuable insights into how your product is used and what your target customers like and dislike about it. By testing with real users, you'll see if your product solves the problem it was designed for and if any other issues need to be addressed.

3.3. Validate Willingness to Pay

Finally, you'll validate your hypothesis about willingness to pay. Figure out if people are willing to pay for your product. This is a critical question for this stage, and by testing the willingness to pay, you'll know if your product is economically viable.

5 Tips to Ensure Bias-Free & Accurate Product Validation Data From Your Research

Product validation is a crucial step in ensuring that your product meets the needs and expectations of consumers. But, without the right approach, biases can creep into the research data, leading to inaccurate results and correct decisions. 

Here are 5 tips that will help you get the most out of your product validation research:

1. Diversify Your Research Participants

Include a diverse group of participants in your research to get a better understanding of how your product will be received by different demographics. For example, if you only test your product on a group of young, tech-savvy individuals, you may want to consider how it will be received by an older demographic as well. This is important because a diverse group of participants can provide a wider range of perspectives and experiences, allowing for a more comprehensive evaluation of your product.

2. Use Blind Testing

Blind testing is a technique used in product development and testing, where participants are unaware of what they are testing. 

It can be an effective tool here as the participants have no idea of what they are testing, and hence, preconceived notions can’t influence their opinions and feedback. This can give you an objective and honest assessment of your product and help you make data-driven product development and launch decisions. 

3. Avoid Leading Questions

Leading questions are a type of question crafted in a way that suggests or contains the desired answer within the question itself. These questions can be misleading and can potentially bias the response of the person being asked. 

This is why it is important to avoid leading questions in order to ensure the validity and accuracy of the research data collected. For example, instead of asking, "Do you like this product?" ask, "What are your thoughts on this product?" 

By asking open-ended questions, you will get a more honest and authentic view of how people perceive your product and make informed decisions about product development and launch.

4. Utilize Multiple Methods of Data Collection

You can gather a comprehensive and accurate understanding of your product by using multiple data collection methods, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and product testing. This can also minimize the impact of biases and increase the validity of your data. 

5. Seek Feedback from a Diverse Group of Experts

To ensure that your product validation data is unbiased and accurate, seek feedback from a diverse group of experts in the field. This can help validate your research results and provide additional insights and recommendations for improvement. 

Also read: Concept Validation: How to Validate Your Product Concept in 5 Steps [with Free Bonus Tips & Resources]

Best Tools and Resources for Product Validation

When taking your product validation process to the next level, the right tools and resources can make all the difference. From gathering feedback to analyzing results, these can help you make informed product development and launch decisions. 

Here are a few tools and resources widely used for prototyping, product testing, product analytics, collecting user feedback, etc...

Now that we know the tools, let’s look at the resources you can refer to for deeper insights:

HBR (Harvard Business Review)

HBR provides in-depth articles and case studies on product validation, market research, and the product development process. The article “Validating Product-Market Fit in the Real World” - by Heather Myers and Zasima Razack is one such resource. 

Focusing on data-driven decision-making, this article provides valuable insights and tips for product managers and entrepreneurs. 

Whether you're an individual, business owner, or product development team, the insights shared in this article will help you to conduct thorough, effective, and unbiased validation research. 

User Research Methods by Nielson Norman Group

When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods is another value-loaded source that provides a comprehensive overview of user research methods and how they can be used for product validation.

It expands on a comprehensive set of user research methods to help companies validate their products' usability, usefulness, and desirability. These methods include, but are not limited to:

  • Usability testing for observing users completing tasks using a product or service. 
  • Contextual inquiry to observe users in their natural environment.
  • Focus groups for qualitative research
  • Surveys for a quick and cost-effective way to gather data from a large number of users. 
  • A/B testing to compare each version's performance and determine the most effective.

Conference Paper by Pertti Seppänen, Nirnaya Tripathi, Markku Oivo, Kari Liukkunen

This paper titled “How Are Product Ideas Validated?” can serve as a valuable resource for those looking to improve their product validation process. It explores a study conducted by an exploratory multiple case study in nine software startups to understand the practices used for idea validation and how the founder's prior competencies influence these practices. 

The results show that the idea validation process is highly non-linear, with a combination of various validation practices being used. The most common practices include copying existing products, prototyping, utilizing expert support, and working closely with customers. 

Overall, it provides valuable insights and a deeper understanding of the idea validation process, making it a useful resource for anyone looking to improve their product validation.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, product validation is a necessary and valuable step in the product development process that can set your product up for success in the marketplace. Not only does it help you validate the technical and economic viability of your product, but it also helps to fine-tune your product before it is finally launched. By doing so, you'll ensure that your product stays on top and leaves your customers happy and satisfied.

If you wish to explore product validation further, you should also refer:

Now, time to answer some of your most common questions on product validation:

Why is product validation important?

Product validation is important to determine whether potential customers will purchase your product or whether your business will be profitable or not. Although it is difficult to guarantee your product will be a complete success before it is actually launched, the process of product validation can greatly improve your chances.

What are the types of product validation?

Product Validation is of four types, depending on the approach. These are as follows:

  1. Prospective validation (or premarket validation)
  2. Retrospective validation
  3. Concurrent validation
  4. Revalidation

What is the main purpose of validation?

The main purpose of validation is to discover whether there is demand for the product or solution that you are building in the market. This implies, checking whether the product addresses the pain points of the customers or not.

How many users do you need to validate a product?

How many users you need to validate a product cannot be specified as it depends on several factors. However, as a general rule of thumb, if you ask for the feedback of 15 people, 10 should be positive about it. Focus on gathering real, actionable feedback that truly lets you predict success. 

What is product validation testing?

Product validation testing is the process of evaluating whether the end product meets the needs or solves the pain points of the potential customers or not before it is launched, in order to reduce the risk.

What are some ways to validate a product before going into the market?

Some of the ways to validate a product before its launch include conducting field research and surveys, researching the market, analyzing the competition, and evaluating the production needs.

What are the best frameworks to validate product ideas?

4 Best frameworks to validate product ideas are Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Google Design Prints, and Customer Development. You can read this article to learn about these product validation frameworks in detail.

Written by Aastha Kochar, a freelance writer at Shnoco.

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