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Market Feasibility Research

How to Know if a Product or Service Idea will Sell

I have been chuckling to myself over the number of wire-frame and inflatable snowmen on lawns here in CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA!!  WHY do people buy these things?  I bet no market researcher in his or her right mind would have said anyone could actually sell fake snowmen to CANADIANS!  But this is a perfect example for the point I have to make today.

We have often been asked to conduct market research in order to answer the question, “Will this product or service actually sell?” There are a few issues with it, because it is not a straight-up market research question.  You see, Market Researchers can assess if the product makes sense or has potential to fill a need, but NOT whether it will actually sell.   Here are some of the other factors that determine whether a product will sell:


Often with a new product, there is no good name, logo, branding, or packaging yet.  Therefore, it is difficult to know whether these will be sufficiently executed to make the product successfully sell.  Sometimes it is these very elements that make or break the products sales completely.  Getting your ducks in a row (with good marketing) first can make the difference between selling or sinking.

Sales Ability and Persistence

If the product isn’t well pitched in a sales situation, it can fail no matter how good it is.   Perhaps it is a politically sensitive sale, for example, a technology replacing a lot of the prospect’s employees. Perhaps the product or service just is too much of a reach for the sales team’s training  – such as a furniture sales team trying to sell interior design.  Or, it could be lack of persistence — I have had a start-up clients myself who have had wonderful products that they simply could not sell, despite training, nagging and coaxing (proven because we help them land their first few clients, but then they can’t or won’t sell it for themselves after that.)  Sometimes it is less about feasibility than determination.  A good reminder:  if there are competitors doing it, it can sell — the factor then becomes YOU.

The Researcher

Getting a prospect to open up to a researcher is one thing, but if the researcher doesn’t really believe in the product, it can be too easy for the prospect to get a poorer representation than the business owner would have given.  This makes it very important to choose the right researcher.   You may need to train your researcher on the true value of your idea, and make sure he or she “buys in” before executing the research.

The bottom line is, if you either can’t sell it, or don’ t know if it will sell, a good marketing consultant, especially one with some sense of sales finesse, can really help you look at all the factors, and get your best possible result.  Please check out our Market Research page for more information on feasibility research.

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About the Author - Jacqueline Drew
Jacqueline M. Drew, BComm, MBA is founder and CEO of Tenato Strategy Inc., a marketing research and strategy firm with bases in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. With over 25 years' experience in all facets of marketing strategy, she is a business consultant, trainer and speaker who loves to use her superpowers "to help the good guys win."