Determining consumer preferences ahead of time provides competitive advantage, avoids unnecessary spending, and helps quickly establish a solid following. The process of discovering consumer preferences takes strategic thinking, planning and initial investment. It also requires vision, creativity, marketing knowledge, research and time. In return, it enables you to sell your product in advance and use the information you collect to perfect your product before placing it on the open market and develop an effective long-term marketing plan.

Step 1.

Research what the market already offers. Identify competitors that offer similar services. Examine their success rates and net profit. Find out through surveys, online information and retail stores which products and services sell best. Based on this, determine which products or services most interest the consumers in your market sector, and make this the focus of your growth or production plan.

Step 2.

Create a survey about the product you intend to manufacture. Distribute the survey to different sectors of the population. Take it to a college campus to find out about university student preferences. Distribute it to random passersby in a large city and in a suburban area. Ask the employees of a company most likely to be interested in your product to fill in the survey. This feedback will help you know the consumer expectations and preferences ahead of time.

Step 3.

Advertise ahead of time with brochures and billboards that have a picture and description of your potential product. Provide a contact number and email. Gather statistics from prospective buyers, by requesting demographic information and preferences from everyone who responds to your advertisements.

Step 4.

Have a trial period before finalizing your production decisions. Offer incentives to encourage as many people as possible to test your project and provide feedback. For example, give the product for free to the first hundred people who commit to use it regularly for a one-month period and provide in-depth feedback. Offer a free trial period, followed by a discount to the first thousand buyers.

Step 5.

Analyze the data you have collected in Steps 1 through 4. The Journal of Extension recommends using the SAS 1999 statistical software for this analysis. Proceed as desired based on the analysis outcomes.