Hypothetical scenario marketing allows you to imagine possible outcomes of any course of action you are contemplating for your business. It doesn't limit you to visions of best-possible outcomes. Being able to imagine negative scenarios can help you avoid problems in some cases -- or at least be prepared for them.

Potential Threats

When you prepare to launch a product, you may have run all the numbers that tell you how many potential customers you have, what profit margin you can expect and the amount of market share you might capture. You can add hypothetical scenarios to your hard data by asking yourself what you would do if your competition introduced a similar product at a lower price. You could examine the scenario of competing on price or the scenario of competing on quality and brand recognition.

Another hypothetical threat you might imagine is a rise in raw material prices that forces you to raise your selling price or reduce your profit margin. Or demographics might shift, requiring you to find a new target audience.

Satisfying Customer Needs

When you put yourself in your customers’ shoes, you can see how your product or service solves their problems. Using your imagination this way is not an act of fantasizing as long as the scenarios you imagine are tied to real-world problems your customers have. You can find out what these problems are by conducting customer surveys. Ask satisfied customers how they use your products or services and what needs your offerings meet. Use this information to create scenarios about customers you haven’t reached yet. For example, if you learn that customers value your delivery service more for its convenience than its price, you can create a marketing campaign that emphasizes that convenience.

Adjusting Existing Products

You can use hypothetical scenarios to create different versions of your product and test-market them. For example, you could change the color of your products and see which color sells the best. You could try different types of packaging to learn which types your customers prefer, or you could try larger and smaller versions of your product to see if that affects customer response. For example, when a petition from a young girl in New Jersey persuaded toymaker Hasbro in 2012 to create gender-neutral versions of its pink Easy-Bake Ovens, the company found a new market among young boys. Imagining such scenarios for your products can help you make similar discoveries.

Hypothetical Products

Scenario marketing is a good tool for research. You can begin by coming up with different hypothetical versions of a product. Ask customers which features they prefer and which ones don’t matter to them as much. Create these products on paper and describe them to customers so they can make side-by-side comparisons. This can help you decide what products to market.