Market Testing

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Market Testing

What's this for?

Although you've done some concept testing in your Entrepreneurial Market Research, more direct Market Testing methods will place you in a face-to-face situation with potential customers and stakeholders, and allow you to obtain more detailed, real-time feedback. Usually and ideally, you will use a prototype for this exercise.

We outline several options in this toolbox to choose from, applicable to different business situations (there may also be others you know of and want to use):

  • Focus groups are the most traditional market research method, alongside surveys, and are most appropriate for consumer propositions.

    Focus groups are less suitable for sounding out business customers, because a group of competing business managers tends to be unlikely to sit in the same room and share their problems or ideas with each other !

  • Lead User exercises fall somewhere between product development, prototyping and market testing, and are especially useful for developing application specs for very new platform technologies and for business-to-business markets.

    Here you are testing a very new (perhaps even futuristic, disruptive) technology or concept – probably one that is not yet very refined  – on a special group of potential business users who are likely to need the innovation more urgently than others.
    The Lead User group can provide feedback on specifications, which features should be developed further and which are less important, and generally where you should focus your product and service efforts.

  • In-Market testing. The ultimate and only sure test of business success will be testing a product or service in the market, by creating real (or very closely simulated) purchasing situations. This is recommended for everybody.

    This activity looks at ways that you can do in-market testing in pilot form at an early stage, before your business has launched full-scale, as a way of gathering evidence or further insights for business feasibility.

  • Don't forget that Empathic Design - described in a separate and earlier section of this Toolbox, can also be used as a form of market testing.

Recommended easy reading for context: Chapter 9 of The Smart Entrepreneur.


To gather more direct customer or stakeholder feedback on your business idea or product/service offering.


Suggested steps

Choose the most appropriate testing method(s) for this stage of your business and run some tests.

It's recommended that you use prototypes for testing, even if they are very simple 'lo-fi' prototypes (see the 'Prototyping' tool in this Toolbox).

If you need to print out a copy of the learning manual(s) for offline use, please follow these steps:
    - Click the "Create PDF" button at the top right hand corner of the page.
    - Scroll to the "Attachment" section (at the end of the last page).
    - Click on the paperclip icon next to the manual.