Volodymyr Khliupin Photo
Volodymyr Khliupin
Head of UX
min read

Discovering a real market need. Step-by-step hands-on guide

A 3D models of a pair of binoculars

Having a great startup idea isn't enough — it's vital to build a solid product-market fit. In this article, you'll learn methods to discover true customer needs and, more importantly, meet them.

Do you feel excited about your amazing startup idea that could change people's lives and can't wait to launch it? Hold your business horses. What about a market need? The one that can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars and your nervous system.

It's a vital step to explore how your product can fit in the industry and get its job done before investing resources in developing an actual one. 

How exactly to do that? 

No worries, in this blog post, I've prepared ready-to-use strategies that can help you minimize unnecessary risks and increase your chances of delivering a powerful solution to customers' challenges. 

Great, huh? 

To make it more hands-on, I'll break down each stage using Lazarev. agency's case, Mappn. What's that? Well, it's an app that empowers people to instantly find clubs, bars, cafes, and other places nearby, compare real-time foot traffic, and decide the best time to attend venues.

Let's roll! 


A quick question: what is a market need?

It's a set of unaddressed needs, desires, and goals your target audience has and looks for ways to fill them. And valuable insights from looking closely into those make a solid bridge that connects your product with potential buyers empowering you to come up with an initiative that can deliver solutions to their problems. 

All right, that's settled. Let's move on to the juicy part.

How to define a real market need for the win

Now it's time to dive into the strategies we've gathered here for. These are some that proved to be effective and the ones we use when working with clients. 

Explore the current state of the market. 

Doing an in-depth market analysis ensures you understand your product's potential in the existing climate.

What to look for at this stage? 

  • size of the market and how fragmented it is;
  • annual growth in the market to see if there is an increasing demand;
  • current trends that could define future needs.

Having analyzed the market landscape for Mappn, we identified three segments of the target audience: tourists, party animals, and people who want to enjoy their social lives in less packed places. To satisfy the needs of all of them, we came up with an advanced filter feature, allowing people to search places according to their preferences.

Employing PEST analysis at this stage also will work to your advantage. For us, while researching for Mappn, it did some magic. But first, let's settle on what this scary acronym stands for. It's an evaluation of the political, economic, social, and technological factors that potentially could affect your venture in a short- and long-term perspective. Leveraging this analysis means being aware of the external influences that may impact your product and be ready to act or adapt. 

Such influences include government regulations, business investment levels, interest rates, economic issues, cultural constraints, technological progress, and socio-cultural factors like the coronavirus pandemic. We hugely benefited from this analysis as it helped us keep in mind people who still want to go out but avoid crowds due to Covid-19 and deliver an app that serves to fill this specific need.

The logo of the Mappn entertainment app, a tool for discovering and exploring local entertainment options

Analyze competitors.

Yes, you have them. 

First of all, see what kind of players are on the field, look into their offerings, approaches, how they solve similar problems, etc. Also, explore companies' strong and weak suits and see what can serve you as a reference and what you should avoid. 

Don't shy away from covering competition within your direct market and more distant one with similar solutions to the same challenge. This information will help you see if and how your product can jump ahead and create a new benchmark. 

For example, with the Mappn case, we analyzed both direct and indirect competitors like city guides, Google maps, and social media. Deep diving into each, we saw their advantages like a booking feature, place preview, and weak spots — lack of reviews, general information on events and venues, etc. 

Competitive analysis profoundly helped us catch best practices, see how to level up our game and what to actively avoid. For instance, Mappn rivals provided some great features: real-time foot traffic, personal recommendations, reactions to places, etc. Ultimately, it opened for us a door to deliver a new exciting product that engages people in an interactive and social-friendly experience.

Two mobile screens displaying Mappn features, including analytics and the places review process

Conduct customer research. 

Who are your potential customers? Knowing an answer to such a question empowers you to develop a personalized product people need.

At this point, you can take advantage of reviews, interviews, and surveys. For now, let's talk about the latter. You can conduct it in person, via email, or online forms. This one is great because you get to collect tons of insightful information in a relatively short time. For example, you could ask if customers face a challenge your product can solve, how they would manage specific issues, etc.

In the case of Mappn, when doing customer research, we found out that:

  • people usually plan the time and place they would go to relax on the same day or the day before;
  • they trust their friends' ratings more than reviews from Yelp or Google Maps;
  • weekends and Fridays are the most popular time to hang out;
  • word of mouth is the go-to way to look for new places for parties;
  • people think that Google Maps doesn't show real-time data.

Also, don't underestimate looking up your potential clients' reviews on social media, blogs, etc. Why? Because it gives you an understanding of how their product expectations, needs, and values have evolved. The clearer this picture is the higher your chances of coming up with a product that hits the target.

The next big step is to talk to your potential customers. An interview is a more in-depth approach than previous ones that can confirm or deny any of your hypotheses and deliver profound insights. Ask potential customers about their needs and what they feel is missing on the market regarding service, product, etc. 

When interviewing potential Mappn users, we focused on:

  • their habits of going out — when, how often, with whom;
  • their ways of looking for places and what apps they used;
  • how time-consuming the whole process was, etc. 

On top of that, we added follow-up "why" questions to dig deeper into users' mindsets and motivations. These little fellas uncovered that some users don't bother to leave comments online on services or products. The reason is that they don't always remember all the details or don't have time for it. Such findings helped us develop tags for people to share their experiences on the places they visited.

3D icons in the Mappn app interface for more interactive user experience

Just before you go

And there you have it. There is no denying that setting out on a journey called "creating a new product" is a profound risk alone. But without knowing if it fits the market, you double this risk. With the strategies above, you have the power to break through preconceived hypotheses and biases and diminish a part of them. So make sure to use these methods to extract valuable insights and ideas to create game-changing products as trouble-free as possible.

In case you need a team of experts to uncover that market need and design a product your users look for — we’re up and ready to help you on this journey. Contact our team and tell us about your project.

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