Don’t ask your customers which new product they want to pay for. Here’s what to do instead.

Quantitative Validation rules for Paid Products

Expect to hear more in-depth advice from me on validation of product hypotheses in the next couple of weeks as the (product) conference season comes to an end mid-November for this year.
But while recently listening to one of my favorite podcasts, I couldn’t help but to (publicly) shout out advice for anybody who’s tinkering with the idea of introducing a new paid product or feature to its user base.

In this episode of the Online Marketing Rockstars Podcast (sorry, only available in German), the founder of Happybrush gets interviewed.
Happybrush is a vertically integrated brand offering electronic toothbrushes, looking to disrupt the market which is dominated by companies like Procter & Gamble or Braun. The current offering includes starter sets, single brushes, toothpaste and some smaller accessories.

When asked about why they’re not offering a subscription model for the brushes or toothpaste to lever higher CLTVs, the founder says this (freely translated):

We’re looking into this, but are doing quite good so far without it. Nevertheless, we have already asked existing customers whether they’d want a subscription model and how it would need to look like/behave for them.
Don’t do stuff like that for a feature or a product which involves payment and believe you have a foundation for building it. Qualitative validation (this is what they’ve done here) will only get you so far.
As this technique focusses on what people say and not what they’ll do, you’re missing they critical psychological validation moment.As long as people like you and your newsletter template looks shiny, they probably tell you that they’ll buy anything at least halfway meaningful. But when the moment of committing the form of entering credit card data arrives, they, e.g., have to consider what to drop instead to pay you now.


Here’s what I’d expect from a vertically integrated brand instead when trying to validate a new product idea:

  1. Use every available channel to ask your existing and non-existing customers about their most significant problem within your area of expertise (e.g., brushing their teeth) you’re not able to solve for them yet.
  2. Develop one or multiple fictional paid solutions for that problem (flashy product name and three essential USPs are enough).
  3. A/B/X Test a “Subscribe now” button for the particular new product ideas (e.g., a subscription for dental floss) including a suggested pricing (test the pricing if you want/have the traffic as well) in your newsletters or even order confirmation/billing e-mails.
  4. Offer a discount code for this product ‘arriving later this year’ to those who showed an honest interest in purchasing as an apology for not being able to order right away.
  5. Take the data and do the math whether those conversion rates would back up the business behind this new idea.
But never make a paid product decision based on qualitative user feedback.