How to generate hypotheses about the needs of potential consumers of your future product

    The vast majority of businesses die because they offer a product that consumers do not need. This is a famous statement by Eric Rhys, author of Lean Startup. How not to fall into this trap with your project?

    The answer is simple - before you make a product, you need to conduct a study to determine the demand for your future product. Any product exists to solve some consumer problems. Therefore, the study should begin with a set of hypotheses about the needs of consumers. That is, to come up with answers to the question - what problems and difficulties will your future product solve?

    Hypothesis creation is a creative process and it is difficult to conduct it strictly according to a certain algorithm, but it’s worth a try. In this article, I describe such an algorithm that will help create a set of hypotheses for their subsequent verification using problematic interviews.


    About myself

    My name is Igor Sheludko.

    I am an entrepreneur in the field of software development and sales since 2000. I have a higher technical education. I started my career as a programmer, also led small teams, was engaged in both product and custom development.
    For 3 years I have been cooperating with the Accelerator of the South IT Park (Rostov-on-Don) as a tracker for startup projects. During this time, more than 20 projects have passed through my caring hands of an individual tracker, and more than 200 projects have passed through the Accelerator.

    Where to begin?

    In my opinion, it is worth starting with an understanding of who will be the target audience (CA) of your future product. If you already have an idea for a product, think about who might need such a product. It often happens that the idea is more likely not about a product, but about a process or technology. Nevertheless, you may well come up with whom it might be useful for and for what.

    How to generate hypotheses about needs?

    Hypotheses about needs are answers to a question - for what tasks can target audience use your product? How can it be useful?

    I recommend generating hypotheses in the form of a tree or a mind map, adhering to the following algorithm.

    At the top level (right from the root), place your assumptions about the basic needs of CA that you can satisfy with your product. Try to give specificity to these hypotheses; if possible, use measurable parameters in your wording.

    If you have a very large list of hypotheses of needs, then think about priorities. It is unlikely that all needs will be equally important for Central Asia and for you. Mark the most important hypotheses. If it is convenient for you, assign priority hypotheses to needs hypotheses and then work on the most important needs.

    The situation - a young man wants to buy his first car.
    CAs are motorists who buy their first passenger car.
    Hypothesis of need No. 1: The client wants to buy a used car no older than 7 years with automatic transmission and a budget of no more than XXX
    Further, suppose that CA really has such a need and think about what tasks need to be solved in order to satisfy this need. Tasks can not immediately turn out to be specific and this is not scary. The task is the answer to the question “what needs to be done to solve the problem?” Not the desired result, not the process, but the action.

    The tasks that arise when solving a problem are a set of sequential actions leading the client to the desired result - solving the problem. Tasks form the second level of the hypothesis tree.

    If you had many hypotheses of needs in the previous step, then work out the tasks for the most important hypotheses. Less important - leave untreated for now. They should be checked during problematic interviews, but now you should not devote a lot of time and effort to them.

    To buy a used car you need:

    1. Decide on a model (not just a “model” and not a “model choice”)
    2. View the model "live", try
    3. Decide on a complete set and color (not just “color”)
    4. Find multiple instances to compare.
    5. Check the accuracy of information about each instance (do not “break through the traffic police database,” because this is far from the only check)
    6. To assess the technical condition, to assess the costs to bring in good condition (not just "go to service")
    7. Select a specific instance
    8. Conclude a sales contract
    9. Get insurance
    10. Register, register sale

    Different methods and tools can be used to solve each of these problems.

    At the third level, products and services arise - our potential competitors.

    To determine the model of a car, you can:

    1. Go to avito, set the criteria - price range, age of the car and other parameters, see the ads and select several options for the car model
    2. Ask more experienced friends - what would they recommend?
    3. Call in several car dealerships that sell used cars - so we can immediately solve the next problem (see live, try on yourself), but we may not see all the interesting options - these are already difficulties, we will deal with them further
    4. To hire a professional consultant for this and the following tasks is to delegate several tasks at once.

    In the latter case, an interesting situation arises - such a consultant will still solve the above problems. Despite the fact that we can delegate a number of tasks to one solution, one executor, the tasks still remain. In this case, the target audience will change and decisions may change, however, the tasks remain. So during the development of one segment of consumers, we came to the hypothesis of the existence of another segment of consumers.

    Each of the solutions can cause difficulties and inconveniences for the consumer - this is the fourth level of the hypothesis tree. At this level there are functions and distinctive features - "features" of products.


    1. For avito - issuing in the avito application is inconvenient, since we wanted to see options for models, and specific ads are shown to us.
    2. Calling in the salons is inconvenient, since in our area there are none and you need to go to the outskirts of the city.
    3. Our friends do not have experience with cars in this price category.
    4. There is no trust in the consultant, suddenly he will offer only those options for which he will receive an additional bonus from sellers.

    The hypotheses of difficulties may not be worked out in detail at the initial stage of the formation of hypotheses, but you should definitely ask about difficulties when conducting problem interviews.

    What do you get as a result?

    As a result, you will have a map (tree) of hypotheses, which will serve as a good basis for developing a plan for conducting problem interviews. During the interview you will need to touch on all the important points present in the hypothesis map.

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