How do you know if your product is a winner?  In post 3 I talked about Carrie Jeske’s criteria for an As Seen On TV product.  During the process of picking from our idea list we wanted to be sure our idea had mass market appeal.  The problem is that most inventors feel their inventions have mass market appeal.  The reasoning goes like this: if everyone has this product then everyone’s life will be easier so everyone will buy this.  While this is occasionally true there are many failed inventions that were great ideas but died because they didn’t connect with the consumer the way the inventor had hoped.

Mass Market Appeal: Locked into a room for 48 hours with a lot of work to do was not a setting that lent itself to testing our ideas and seeing what the “mass market” thought about them.  Or was it? It turns out that there are a lot of people milling around at the Make48 competition. There are designated mentors, Tool Techs, Make48 staff, TV crew, and dozens of VIP guests.  So, as we judged the value of the various ideas we were able to think of these people as an “Instant Focus Group”; asking them their opinions and judging their reactions.

As we started at the idea phase we tested some problems on people to see if they shared the pain point we were considering.  “Do you have too much stuff to carry to the beach?” “Do you get bugs in your wine glass?” “Do you have a hard time keeping food cold when you tailgate?”  “Do you hate getting stuck in the rain?” We asked more questions once we had chosen our problem and wanted feedback on our different solutions. Mentors are experts in retail and offer great insights into pricing concerns, size considerations, production issues, etc.  But we also made sure to ask as many people as we could their opinions of our ideas to see which they preferred.

TIP: Don’t ask people if they like an idea.  Give people a choice of two or three options.  For example: ask, “Which of these three products would you buy to solve bugs in your wine?”  Alternately, use a Likert Scale – that idea of asking for a rating 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. For example, “On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst, how big a problem do you have with bugs in your wine?”

All inventors have to grapple with the uncertainty of how their invention will be received if it makes it to the market.  The more an inventor can find out about what the market wants the more likely the final product design will be a winner.