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Product Research: Everything You Need to Know in 2024

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Product research is an essential aspect of running a successful e-commerce business. Whether you’re a dropshipper, brand builder, or Amazon seller looking to take your business to the next level in 2024? Product research is the key to success in today’s competitive market. By understanding the latest trends and consumer preferences, you can stay ahead of the curve and maximize your profits. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about product research and how it can help achieve your business goals.

What is Product Research?

What is Product Research?
What is Product Research?

In essence, product research is the investigative process of gathering information to inform decisions about a product.  This can involve a new product idea, an existing product in your catalog, or even potential products you might want to offer.  The goal is to understand the market, your target audience, and the competitive landscape to develop or refine products that resonate with customers and ultimately drive sales.

Why is Product Research Important?

Think of product research as the foundation upon which you build your product strategy.  Here’s why it holds so much weight:

  • Reduces Risk: By identifying potential customer demand and avoiding oversaturated markets, you minimize the risk of launching a product that flops.
  • Uncovers Opportunities: Research can reveal market gaps and untapped needs, allowing you to develop innovative products that stand out from the crowd.
  • Informs Product Development: Research provides valuable insights that can guide product features, design, and functionality to ensure it addresses customer pain points effectively.
  • Strengthens Marketing Strategy: Understanding your target audience and their needs allows you to tailor your marketing messages to resonate with them and drive sales.
  • Boosts Customer Satisfaction: By focusing on products that solve real problems and offer value, you increase customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty.

Key Areas of Product Research

Product research can be broadly categorized into three main areas:

  1. Market Research:  This involves understanding the overall market landscape for your product category. It includes analyzing industry trends, customer demographics, buying habits, and potential market size.
  2. Competitive Research:  Here, you delve into the world of your competitors.  Analyze their products, pricing strategies, marketing tactics, strengths, and weaknesses to identify opportunities to differentiate your own offerings.
  3. Customer Research:  This is all about understanding your target audience.  What are their needs, wants, and pain points?  What are they looking for in a product like yours?  Research methods like surveys, interviews, and focus groups can provide invaluable customer insights.

By effectively combining these three research areas, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the market, your competition, and your ideal customer.  This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions about product development, pricing, marketing, and ultimately,  the success of your product.

4 Types of winning products

  • Emerging products: These are new products in the market with minimal competition from online sellers, making them a great opportunity for growth.
  • Trending products: These are products that are gaining popularity and are currently being tested or scaled by online sellers. They are a safe choice for beginners as they offer a predictable sales record.
  • Seasonal products: These products are in demand during specific seasons, leading to high sales during those times. However, sales may slow down during off-seasons.
  • Revived products: These are previously successful products that are being reintroduced to the market. While they have proven success in the past, there is no guarantee they will perform well again.

Pillars of Product Research

We’ll break down the research process into three key pillars: Demand, Competition, and Profitability.  Consider these three factors as your trusty compass guiding you towards product nirvana.

1. Demand

Imagine pouring your heart and marketing muscle into a product nobody wants.  Not a pretty picture, right?  Here’s how to gauge demand:

  • Keyword Research: Dive into tools like Google Trends, Ahrefs, or SEMrush to see what people are searching for. Look for keywords with high search volume and low competition (think “unicorn tears” vs. “running shoes”).  Pro Tip: When using a tool like Google Trends,  consider using a timeframe to see how search interest has changed over time. You can add a screenshot here to illustrate this feature.
  • Social Listening:  Become a fly on the wall on social media platforms like Facebook groups, Reddit threads, and Twitter conversations relevant to your niche. See what problems people are discussing and what products they’re raving about.
  • Trendspotting: Keep an eye on popular culture, influencer endorsements, and industry publications to identify emerging trends.  Action Step:  Set up Google Alerts for keywords related to your niche to stay ahead of the curve.

2. Competition

While a little competition is healthy, wading into a market saturated with identical products is a recipe for disaster.  Here’s how to assess the competitive landscape:

  • Amazon Best Sellers List: This goldmine reveals top-selling products across various categories.  Analyze these products to understand what resonates with buyers, but don’t simply copy them. Look for niches within these categories.
  • Niche Research Tools: Tools like Jungle Scout (for Amazon sellers) or Sell The Trend (for dropshippers and branded stores) provide valuable insights into competition levels, estimated sales volume, and product reviews.
  • Competitor Analysis: Scope out your competition’s websites and social media presence. See what they’re doing well (and not so well) to identify opportunities for differentiation.

3. Profitability

You’re not in this for the glory (although that’s a nice perk). You want to make some serious moolah. Here’s how to assess a product’s profit potential:

  • Profit Margin: Calculate the difference between your selling price and the cost of acquiring the product (including shipping fees). Aim for a healthy margin to cover your business expenses and leave room for profit.
  • Supplier Research: Find reliable dropshipping suppliers or wholesalers who offer competitive pricing and high-quality products. Consider factors like minimum order quantities (MOQs) and shipping times.
  • Pricing Strategy: Research the typical pricing for similar products in your niche. You can use tools like Keepa (for Amazon) or Prisync (for general price tracking) to monitor competitor pricing.

Amazon vs. Dropshippers vs. Branded Stores Product Research

Amazon vs. Dropshippers vs. Branded Stores Product Research
Amazon vs. Dropshippers vs. Branded Stores Product Research

While the core objective of product research remains the same (finding profitable products), the approach differs depending on your chosen business model: Amazon seller, dropshipper, or branded store owner. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Focus of Product Research

  • Amazon Sellers: Primarily focused on existing products with proven demand on the Amazon marketplace. Research revolves around optimizing listings for discoverability and profitability within Amazon’s ecosystem. Tools like Jungle Scout and Helium 10 analyze sales data, reviews, and competition specifically for Amazon sellers.
  • Dropshippers:  Tend to look for trending products with high demand and lower competition across various sales channels (not just Amazon). Research involves identifying reliable dropshipping suppliers, analyzing profit margins after considering supplier costs and shipping fees. Tools like Sell The Trend cater to dropshippers by providing data on product trends, supplier information, and estimated profitability.
  • Branded Stores: Research goes beyond simply finding a product; it involves identifying a niche and developing a brand identity.  The focus is on unique product ideas that solve customer problems within the chosen niche. Research includes competitor analysis of branded stores, understanding customer demographics and psychographics within the target niche.

Data Sources

  • Amazon Sellers:  Leverage Amazon-specific data like Best Sellers lists, category trends, and competitor reviews within the Amazon platform.
  • Dropshippers:  Utilize a wider range of data sources, including general market research tools like Google Trends, social listening platforms, and trend forecasting services.  They also rely on dropshipping supplier platforms and marketplaces to identify products.
  • Branded Stores:  Draw from a broader spectrum of data sources, including market research reports, industry publications, social media sentiment analysis within the chosen niche, and customer surveys to understand specific needs and preferences.

Product Selection Criteria

  • Amazon Sellers: Prioritize products with high sales volume, positive reviews, and low competition within existing categories on Amazon. Existing product reviews on Amazon can be a goldmine of information for identifying customer pain points and opportunities for improvement.
  • Dropshippers: Look for products with high perceived value, low manufacturing costs, and easy scalability.  Finding a reliable supplier with fast shipping times is crucial for dropshippers.
  • Branded Stores:  Seek to develop products with a unique selling proposition (USP) that caters to a specific niche.  Product quality, brand identity, and emotional connection with the target audience are paramount.

Long-Term Strategy

  • Amazon Sellers:  Focus on constant optimization of product listings, pricing strategies, and advertising campaigns within the Amazon marketplace.
  • Dropshippers:  Maintain a flexible product portfolio, adapting to changing trends and customer preferences.  Finding new dropshipping suppliers and sourcing new products is an ongoing process.
  • Branded Stores:  Invest in brand building, customer loyalty, and potentially expanding product lines within the chosen niche.  Developing a strong brand story and fostering a community around the brand are key aspects of long-term success.

These are just general differences.  There’s some overlap between the approaches.  For instance, some Amazon sellers might also develop their own branded products, and dropshippers might choose to focus on a specific niche over time.  The key takeaway is to understand how your chosen business model impacts your product research strategy.

How to conduct a product research

How to conduct a product research
How to conduct a product research

Unearthing profitable products is the cornerstone of any successful ecommerce business. Here’s a taste of how product research differs depending on your chosen path:

Amazon Product Research

  • Focus: Existing products with high demand on Amazon.
  • Research: Optimize listings for discoverability within Amazon’s ecosystem (think Amazon-specific tools like Jungle Scout, Helium 10 or Amazon brand analytics).
  • Key Metrics: Sales volume, reviews, competition within Amazon.

Check out our detailed guide on Conquering Amazon Product Research

Branded Store Product Research

  • Focus: Unique product ideas that solve customer problems in a specific niche.
  • Research: Identify a niche, understand customer demographics, and analyze branded store competitors.
  • Key Metrics: Niche opportunity, customer needs, brand identity.

Check out our detailed guide on Branded Store Product Research

Dropshipping Product Research

  • Focus: Trending products with high perceived value and low manufacturing costs.
  • Research: Utilize general market research tools, identify reliable dropshipping suppliers.
  • Key Metrics: Profit margins, scalability, supplier quality and shipping times.

Become a dropshipping research pro with our Dropshipping Product Research guide

Tools to Streamline Your Research

Now, let’s equip you with the right tools to transform research from a chore into a strategic advantage:

These tools are meant to be a compass, not a crutch.  Combine data insights with your own intuition and understanding of your target market.

Advance Product Research Strategies

Now that you’ve mastered the fundamentals, let’s unlock some secret weapons to elevate your research game:

  • The Power of Surveys and Polls: Engage your target audience directly. Create surveys or polls to gauge interest in new product ideas, identify pain points, and gather feedback on existing products.  Social media platforms and email marketing are great ways to distribute your surveys.
  • Think Outside the Google Box:  While Google is a goldmine of data, don’t neglect alternative search engines like Bing, Yandex, or DuckDuckGo. These platforms may reveal different search trends and long-tail keywords with less competition.
  • Embrace the Power of Communities:  Join online forums, Facebook groups, and subreddits relevant to your niche.  Actively participate in discussions, ask questions, and identify problems people are facing. This can spark product ideas that address unmet needs.
  • Offline Inspiration: Keep your eyes peeled for real-world trends. Visit trade shows, attend industry events, and browse brick-and-mortar stores in your niche.  Sometimes, the most innovative ideas come from the physical world.
  • Partner Up: Collaborate with influencers or micro-influencers in your niche.  They can provide valuable insights into their audience’s preferences and help you brainstorm trending product ideas.

Beyond Product Research

Once you have found a winning product, the next step is to move on to the validation state as stated below:

The Power of Product Content Creation

Now you need to showcase it in a way that compels customers to hit that “buy” button. Here’s the importance of high-quality content:

  • Compelling Product Descriptions:  Craft descriptions that are informative, engaging, and benefit-driven. Highlight the product’s unique selling points and how it solves customer problems.
  • High-Resolution Images and Videos:  Showcase your product in all its glory.  Use professional-looking visuals that capture attention and accurately represent the product.
  • Storytelling Through Content:  People connect with stories. Use content marketing (blog posts, social media content, email marketing) to tell the story behind your product and its benefits.

Testing, Tweaking, and Taking Action

Product research is an ongoing process. Don’t expect to find the perfect product overnight. Here’s how to refine your research and take action:

  • Start Small: Don’t overload your inventory with unproven products.  Begin with a small selection and test the waters.
  • Pre-Launch Marketing: Generate buzz for your new product before launch. Run social media campaigns, offer pre-order discounts, or partner with influencers for promotion.
  • Analyze Results:  Track your product’s performance closely. Monitor sales figures, customer reviews, and social media engagement.
  • Adapt and Evolve:  Based on your results, be prepared to adapt your marketing strategy, pricing, or even the product itself.

FAQs

Why is product research important?

Product research is crucial for identifying profitable products that meet customer needs and avoid wasting resources on products that flop. It helps you make data-driven decisions about what to sell, ensuring your business thrives in the long run.

How long does product research typically take?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Product research can be an ongoing process. However, dedicating focused time at the beginning to research can save you significant time and money down the road.

What tools can I use for product research?

The tools you use will depend on your business model (Amazon seller, dropshipper, branded store). Some popular options include Google Trends, Ahrefs, Jungle Scout (for Amazon sellers), Sell The Trend (for dropshippers), and Helium 10 (for Amazon sellers). There are also free and paid options available.

What should I focus on when researching products for Amazon?

Look for existing products with high sales volume, positive reviews, and low competition within Amazon. Tools like Jungle Scout can help you analyze these metrics. Consider factors like product size and weight when researching due to Amazon’s fulfillment fees.

How do I find a niche for my branded store?

Use a combination of market research reports, social listening tools, and competitor analysis to identify gaps in the market and unmet customer needs. Consider your own interests and expertise when choosing a niche.

What are some key things to consider when researching products for dropshipping?

Focus on trending products with high perceived value, low manufacturing costs, and easy scalability. Finding reliable dropshipping suppliers with fast shipping times is essential. Use tools like Sell The Trend to identify potential dropshipping products and suppliers.

Conclusion

There’s no magic formula for product research success. The key is to be data-driven, creative, and willing to adapt. With the strategies and tools outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to unearthing products that propel your ecommerce business to new heights. Remember, the key to success in 2024 is staying ahead of the competition and meeting the needs and preferences of your target market. Happy researching!

Also ReadAmazon FBA vs. Dropshipping: Which E-Commerce Model is Right for You?

Let us know in the comment section if you find this article helpful or you still have any other question, we would love to hear from you.

About the author

Afenuvon Gbenga

Meet Afenuvon Gbenga, a full-time blogger, YouTuber, ICT specialist, tech researcher, publisher, and an experienced professional in e-commerce and affiliate marketing. Are you eager to kickstart your online business, then you're in the right place. Join us at techwithgbenga.com, where you'll uncover the insider secrets to starting and scaling a successful online business from the best!

Before blogging which started as a side project in 2019, Gbenga successfully led a digital marketing team for a prominent e-commerce startup. His expertise also extends to evaluating and recommending top-notch software solutions to boost your online business.

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Afenuvon Gbenga

Meet Afenuvon Gbenga, a full-time blogger, YouTuber, ICT specialist, tech researcher, publisher, and an experienced professional in e-commerce and affiliate marketing. Are you eager to kickstart your online business, then you're in the right place. Join us at techwithgbenga.com, where you'll uncover the insider secrets to starting and scaling a successful online business from the best...

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