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Have an Out of the Box idea?
Here is how you should research its potential.
Shahryar Khan, 12 October 2017
If your idea falls within your target market's usual framework of thinking or
relates to past experiences, you will be doing 'in-the-box' market research.
For instance, letting your respondents try strawberry flavoured cola before
launching it in the market. A respondent will instantly compare that with
regular cola when answering questions related to prices, acceptability and
their willingness to buy it (ESOMAR, 2013). Your forecasts based on this
research are more likely to resemble real life actions of your target
consumers in an actual market. However, if your idea is a better alternative
you will need a different approach.

Research your idea first
Before anything else, you need to research your out of the box idea itself -
an idea that is not just an alternative option, rather adds value for
consumers. Start with a three step research process: problem solving,
design thinking and market priming. Simply said:
  • Does this new idea solve problems for a target market?
  • Did you apply best practices from other successful products / services
    in the market?
  • Will our target market instantly understand our key selling point
    without you actively educating them?

At every stage interact with a proper representation of your target market,
analyse all verbal and non-verbal cues and improve further.

Practically apply the three step process
In 1966, Owen Maclaren first came up with the fold-able baby stroller. He
identified the problem: existing strollers did not easily fit into car trunks. He
used his experience as an aeronautics engineer to design a frame that folds
like an aeroplane's landing gear. Plus, his use of visual cues resonated
instantly with his target market: the stroller looked like something that folds
- a deck chair (Wood & Ewing, 2016).

Breaking down your research process into these three steps will also help
you launch commercially viable products / services.  
In short
Your out of the box idea needs to solve a problem, draw in best practices
from existing products and instantly create a mental reference for your
target market. Once you have that sorted, build a prototype, survey your
target market and make data driven decisions to fine tune your product, set
the right price and communicate effectively.

About the author:
Shahryar Khan is a Market Research and Customer Experience (CX) Management
consultant. He worked as a Brand & Advertising consultant for Commonwealth Bank
Australia; served as a CX consultant for Toyota Finance, Lexus Automotive and Audi
Australia; and managed over 90 market research projects for top MNCs in

References / Sources:
1) ESOMAR (2013), ed. Ray Poynter and Sue York, “Answers to contemporary market research
questions”, ESOMAR Eurocentre 2, The Netherlands. Contributing Authors: Dr. Nasir Khan, Suz
Allen, Sven Arn, Reg Baker, Susan Bell, Pete Cape, Alison Dexter, Dirk Huisman, Kathryn Korostoff,
Phyllis Macfarlane, Omar Mahmoud, Bernie Malinoff, Katie O’Connor, Stephen Paton, Annie Pettit,
Pravin Shekar, Anouk Willems and Tom Wilms. Curated by Finn Raben, Ray Poynter and Sue York.

2) Wood, Orlando and Ewing, Tom (2016), “Fluent Innovation: Using Behavioural Science to Make
Your Next Big Idea a Success”, System1 Group TV, available online at https://vimeo.

3) Platt, Nicholas Graham (2016), “Media Image”, Culfact, 13th February 2016, available online at