The remaining three market research strategies rely on the use of retail.
1. Samples. This strategy can be expensive, and if it is, don’t use it. Make samples of your product. They need not be of the highest quality. Place these samples in actual retail environment that suits the product and sell the samples at your specified price point. How many people buy them? Does interest exist? How strong is it? The test data you gain here is invaluable, and the strongest piece of support you can present to potential licensors or financers. It’s hard to argue with test data. This is the strategy I wrote about in the 7/11 story. Another example of the power of sample runs is John Osher and the spin brush. Osher produced the brush himself in small quantities and ran tests before turning around and selling the product for 475 million dollars. Had Osher not had the powerful data to back up his idea, there is no way he could have landed such a lucrative contract.
2. The Sales Sheet Order Form. If you cannot make actual samples, then using your sales sheet as an order form is an effective second option. Obviously, some products are more suited for this strategy than others. Place the order form at the counter and see if it generates interest. Do people pick it up? Do they fill it out? If you cannot supply the order, simply return the money. Drop off these order forms in four to five retail establishments. Is there a bite? Make sure the order form looks as sharp as possible.
3. Surveys. This is the strategy I used with HotPicks. Before I had a di-cut of the guitar pick made, I wanted to learn a little bit more about the likes and dislikes of our consumer base. I put together a folder of artwork and an accompanying survey. Which guitar-pick images did people like the best? What were the worst? Offer an incentive for people who fill out your survey. For example, I sent every person who filled one out free picks. It’s also important to get the person who will present your survey (such as the cashier at the retail counter) on your side: offer them a reward as well for their help. I placed my survey in five music stores and the results I gathered directly affected which picks I ended up making. We had information telling us, “Go this direction.”
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