When designing a new product and taking it to market, you might wonder if you’ve got a winner. It can be difficult to predict how consumers will respond to it. One step in product creation that is sometimes left out is market research focus groups. What some companies may see as a waste of time can actually add valuable input to the end-result of your product. There’s more to market research than simply asking people to fill out surveys, however. An important component that many product creators are using is the rapid prototype. Rapid prototyping in rubber molding can be used for market research before your product is manufactured in its final form. Since molded rubber rapid prototypes are about 95 percent in resemblance as compared to the finished product, you can run marketing tests to confirm your ideas before completion.

Focus Groups

Market research firms can create focus groups for your specific product simply based on visual display. For example, let’s say you’ve created a new case for binoculars and its outer shell is made from silicone rubber molding. A market research firm can pull together a group of people for you who use binoculars. Maybe they are into bird watching or hunting. Perhaps they are sports fans who sit high up in the stands and like to get a close-up look at the action on the field and the sidelines. They are preferably all binocular users who can give you insight into where your product excels and where – or if – it falls short. Telephone surveys can help to pinpoint age, gender and price-point demographics for potential buyers. When it comes to appearance, however, you’ll need to use a rubber molding prototype that your focus group can look at when they provide important opinions.

In Person

Visualizing what the new product will look like is possible when using a rapid prototype. The test market can see the shape, color and most details that will be present in the final version. Use a variety of colors as a sampling to see what the most user-friendly and popular color selections are. For example, black may be a default color for binocular cases, but some users may prefer bright colors, such as pink, blue, yellow or red to distinguish theirs from everyone else’s. Allowing the focus group to see the variety may shed new light on how well other colors will be received by consumers once your item hits the shelves.

In Print

Rapid prototyping of rubber molding products is an option for using printed materials to conduct testing and opinion gathering. Photos of the products display a strong likeness, so the focus group members don’t have to be in the same place. These materials can be sent to a variety of places where market research groups can be gathered in several locations. For a global or nationwide release, it may be helpful to have sampling groups on the East Coast, West Coast and Midwest. People in California may have a very different opinion of using bright colors than those in Virginia, for example.

Online

Not all market surveys need to take place in person. Online surveys portraying images of several versions of the product in different colors or even with different features are also effective. The printing on products, especially those with custom rubber keypads, can change the whole look of your creation. Try using images of rubber keypads or other components with a black background and white letters versus a yellow background with black lettering.

Why Market Research?

There are several advantages in creating rapid prototypes for market research. Perhaps the most notable is that they are cost effective. It is less expensive than creating several possible products through complete manufacture before making a decision. It is also more effective to have the right colors and features in hand for final production than an item that won’t sell because of unexpected snags in function or appearance. Another advantage is lead time. Rapid prototype rubber molding components can be ready from design through production in a matter of two to three weeks, versus the several months it sometimes takes before your creation is consumer-ready.

SiTECH has the capability to produce your design in a rapid prototype to help you prepare for the market research process. To learn more about the options available, visit our rapid prototyping page or contact our office.