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When you're in the middle of developing a new product, it's easy to get caught in tunnel vision. You believe in the merits and features of your new product and so do your friends, family and neighbors. But, selling to this small group won't even get you into a profit zone, and some of them may be hiding concerns they have from you. Until you get impartial feedback about your new product technology and its appearance you truly don't how the public will respond to it. One way to get this advice is by conducting a focus group.
This type of market research gives people a chance to comment on your product in an environment that is designed for open, honest feedback. The moderator of such a group is key. That person has to avoid reacting positively or negatively to anything he or she hears. That means that you, the inventor may not be the best moderator. If a focus group participant says, "I hate this product!" the moderator has to say, with a straight face, "OK, who else has a similar opinion?" and, "Why do you hate it?" Those who observe the group in progress can take notes and pay attention to nonverbal signs. Are participants bored or excited about the product? You should run several sets of focus groups before you decide you have enough feedback. You should always fill your groups with people likely to use the product. For example, if you have an invention for a gadget to help someone who is elderly, visit senior centers and ask if people would want to participate in the groups. Offering incentives like a meal or cash helps.
You can also hire a marketing company that specializes in focus groups to handle everything from the participants to the moderator to the location for you. Call local marketing companies to find such a firm. If they don't do it, ask for a referral.