Go with lean product development and skip costly focus groups in favor of the truest test: the real world.
Tom Hulme, Design Director at IDEO, discusses lean product development in a HBR Blog Network video. “Today, we repeatedly hear that we must fail fast, fail cheap, and move on,” Hulme says, but that’s difficult to follow through on when most products are developed inside closed labs and with feedback limited to focus groups. Instead of developing and refining a product in an incubator, he urges you to “release your idea into the wild before it’s ready.”
Hulme starts by recommending you skip focus groups and strip down into lean product development by launching it in the “real environment,” or by testing your product’s appeal online “before it even exists” with links to surveys placed on websites frequented by your target market. “Testing your prototype in the real world is faster, lower-cost, and far less risky than placing a big bet on something that people may not want,” Hulme says.