product research techniques cover image

Product Research for Ecommerce Brands

Three product research techniques

Want to add winning products to your ecommerce store? In this article, I share three techniques for finding ‘those’ products.

Ever invested significant amount of time and money in what you believed was a winning product? Only to be left with nothing to show, but crickets?

You and me both!

However, I believe we can reduce the risk of failure by undertaking research before we spend a penny on stock or marketing campaigns.

Today, I will share three research techniques you can use whether your developing a luxury service or a new clothing line.

Useful: Read my epic guide to starting a clothing line

Technique 1: Look at online search trends

3.5 billion people use Google to search for what they need every day. So, it’s only natural that the industry leader has a huge amount of data on people’s wants and needs.

Google has built many tools to help people (business owners, marketers, academics) make the most of this data.

One of those apps is Google Trends.

This research tool shows the trending popularity of search queries over time – which is useful for checking for the demand of a product or service.

Let’s play it out…

I searched for the fashion trend ‘Normcore’ (dressing like a 1980s IT manager) in Australia over the last 5 years.

Google trends normcore search

Rather than showing search volume (the number of people looked for a query in a month), the tools shows the normalised popularity for the search term.

In the above example, we see Normcore was at peak popularity (100%) during 2015. Since that time interest has dropped to around 12%-25%.

The trend is downwards, so it’s not the right time to launch a Normcore collection in Australia.

We can also check trends in other locations. Let’s check out Normcore in Japan.

Google trends normcore

In Japan, we see two spikes of popularity for Normcore. The first in 2014 and the second in July 2018.

This second spike looks like a growing trend. Now might be the perfect to make and sell Normcore products in Japan.

Compare trending terms

You can also use Google Trends to compare the popularity of queries.

Let’s compare ‘Normcore’ and ‘Streetwear’ in Australia.

Google trends comparison normcore streetwear

Wow, Streetwear is wiping the floor with Normcore and looks like a solid bet for a new brand or collection.

Once you’ve got your new streetwear products in stock, you must market them.

And whether you’re running a Google Ad campaign or a pop-up shop, you’ll want to focus your efforts in the right regions. Google Trends can help you find the right locations for your efforts.

Of course, a winning marketing strategy requires more than the right location. Want to know what’s needed? Read my complete guide to fashion digital marketing.

Find the hottest regions

So, where in Australia should you market your streetwear products?  Handily, Trends gives us that data too.

streetwear in australia trending map

From this analysis, it seems Streetwear is most popular in Western Australia, and least popular in New South Wales.

However, also consider the size of the market when making your marketing decisions.

100% popularity in WA x 2.6 million (population) = Market score of 2.6
65% popularity in NSW x 7.5 million (population) = Market score of 4.875

On this basis, NSW appears to be a bigger market for Streetwear, and should be included in our advertising campaign if we want to maximise reach. However, if we only had the budget for one pop-up store, then WA might be a better option.

Discover trending products

Trends will also show you related trending search terms.

When I search for ‘Jacket’ in Australia, I learn the query has a predictable seasonal peak.

Google trends jacket search popularity

I also find related trending products, this information can help you can find trending product variants.

related trending topics


Find popular problems

You can also use Google Trends to find trending problems that need products and solutions!

google trends more car keys getting lost

Are people really losing more car keys? Or do we expect the internet to solve all our problems these days? I’ll save that conversation for the pub!

Carrying on with our research, we can see that ‘Activities for toddlers’ peaked back in 2004, and although the trend collapsed for a short time, interest has been trending steadily upwards. It looks like a sensible bet for a new service or business.

activities for toddlers on the rise in Google Trends

Apple became a trillion dollar company thanks to luxury products, such as the iPhone X, so it’s no surprise that queries and demand for ‘Luxury Escapes’ is on the rise.

luxury escapes on an upwards trend

Technique 2: Find connected products

Google Correlate is an online app you can use to find connected and highly related products.

Google correlate xmas search

The software finds search queries that have a similar search pattern to your seed term. For example, ‘christmas tree’ and ‘tinsel’ have an almost identical seasonal search pattern.

Google correlate xmas graph

The blue and red lines shows the overlapping search patterns for christmas trees and tinsel.

Let’s explore how this tool can reveal new product and service ideas. Remember those ‘luxury escapes’ from Google Trends, let’s use this term as our seed idea.

luxury escapes google correlate

The result reveals a high correlation between ‘luxury escapes’ and Virgin’s flight chartering service.

virigin and luxury escapes google correlate graph

Running a concierge service and not booking chartered flights? This could be the perfect moment to break in to that market.

Already got some hot products? Correlate can also help you find other hot products.

I know that dark chocolate’s popular right now. But I’m interested in seeing if other related chocolate bars would be a good investment. Let’s do a search…

dark chocolate and gluten free google correlate

Gluten-free chocolate looks like an interesting bet!

dark chocolate and gluten free google correlate graph

As you can see Google Correlate is a useful tool, but be prepared to separate the wheat from the chaff as it also throws up some random answers.

Technique 3: Combine search engine volumes and popular queries

The following technique is a mash-up of two free online tools: Answer the Public and Keywords Everywhere.

Answer the Public pulls data from Google and Bing — it scrapes the auto suggest results that appear when you start typing a query.

Google auto suggest answers

Enter your seed query in to Answer the Public and you’ll get an extensive list of related search queries. And this lovely guy with a beard!

answer the public home page

This data is presented in a wheel, which is subdivided in to questions such as why, what, where, etc.

When you get a lot of data in your results, it can make your eyes water….

yoga pants answer the public

Switch to data view and you’ll see a digestible list of product ideas. Including, market segment ideas…

answer the public market and niche ideas

and product feature ideas…

answer the public product feature ideas

All of these results are based on what people search for on Google. And that will certainly help to lower the risk of making products just for crickets!

But, it would be nice to know the level of interest and demand, so we can pick ideas are worth our precious time and money. How many people are looking for Yoga Pants for dogs?

This is where Keywords Everywhere can help us. Install the Google Chrome extension. Now rerun your search in Answer the Public.

Switch to Data viewing mode again.

You’ll now see Keywords Everywhere data inside the search results.

yoga pants answer the public keywords everywhere data

We can see that ‘yoga pants for dogs’ has a monthly search volume of 110, which is tiny compared to the 18,100 monthly searches for men and women.

Use the data as a guide

I found the matching volume for men and women in the previous result suspect! My gut feeling — there should be at least a 60/40 split in favour of women for yoga pants.

I double-checked those numbers in Ahrefs, this is the professional tool we use at Bright Arts Agency for all our SEO projects.

Aha, there is a clear disparity between female and male search volume — at least in the UK.

Ahrefs search volume data yoga pants

And even the global search volume varies from that stated by Keywords Everywhere.

Ahrefs global search volume data

My advice. Use the Keywords Everywhere data to give you an overall sense of what’s popular. If you need more accurate data, you must pay for a professional research tool like Ahrefs.


Test and validate your business ideas

Hopefully, the tools I’ve shared with you, will help you find winning products and services for your Ecommerce brand. With all the data that’s available, there’s no excuse for crickets being your only visitors.

Best of luck with your new product ideas and thanks for reading — Andrew.

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