Many people might be interested in how to find a product idea or how to do market research for a product even though it may seem like an intimidating process. A good way to conduct research is to collect data from recent trends or from survey results to get information about potential consumer trends and wants.

A great way to find out what people want is to look and learn and then ask questions and obtain feedback. The first thing you need to do is examine the market and see what is already on the market and who are the big players that are dominating the product category. You then need to think about products that are missing from the market or products that haven’t been improved in years, are sub-par quality, are too expensive, are too difficult to use, etc., etc. Once you’ve identified products that are needed you can start thinking about how you can make money off of usin gthose products.

Research captures customer preferences, allows your organization to understand the end-user experience, and prioritizes the “wants” and “needs” of a target audience.

Ultimately, conducting market research throughout the product development process is critical to gauging market demand and ensuring that the final product meets the demands of the user.

While most market research is typically focused on the end-user, it’s important to note that other stakeholders need to be involved as well.

This includes:

  • Sales representatives
  • Leadership teams
  • Customer support teams
  • Distributors
  • Engineers
  • Marketing

These audiences should be included in the research through any of the methodologies we discuss today, or at a minimum be represented in some other way during the product design meetings.

1. New Product Idea Generation (Exploratory Research)

Exploratory research is a good starting point for any organization. It provides value, even if an organization is in the initial phases of concept testing.

This type of research gives an understanding of current customer satisfaction and provides direction for optimizing and marketing current product/service offerings.

However, the main goal of this research is to understand the general needs of the market and identify new product or service opportunities for your organization.

What questions does exploratory research answer?

  • What is the awareness of products available on the market?
  • Are customers satisfied with the products available?
  • How could products on the market be improved?
  • What new products/features is there interest in?
  • What are the customer needs? What needs are not being met?
  • What type of customer would be most interested in a new product?
  • What does the decision-making process for buying the product look like?

What research options are available for new product idea generation?

2. New Product Concept or Prototype Testing Research​

After conducting exploratory research (formally or informally), an organization has identified a need within the market and is set to develop a new product that customers will be interested in.

The main goal of new product testing research is to have your target audiences evaluate the new product and ensure that the product meets their needs.

This research will provide insights on changes that must be made before a product is finalized and hits the market. It can also help guide the product launch through marketing insights.

Depending on the complexity of your product, this type of research may need to be re-visited at multiple points throughout the product development process.

In the beginning…

Early in the process, you may have a basic concept and idea that you want to test before proceeding. Conduct new product research now!

In the middle…

In a few months, your brand may have more detailed product specifications with renderings or product mock-ups. Again, conduct market research!

In the end…

Finally, near product design finalization, you may have an actual prototype or final product that the consumer can evaluate and provide feedback on. You guessed it – conduct prototype testing research!

What questions does new concept research answer?

  • What do customers like about the concept/product?
  • How could the product be improved?
  • What would the customer use our product for?
  • What features/specifications are the most important?
  • How likely would customers be to purchase the product?
  • How much would customers pay for this product?

What research options are available for prototype testing?

How to Get Started with Product Development Research

There are a few factors to consider before hitting the ground running. Our new product development research firm outlines these below.

Set Your Objectives

This first step is key. You’ll want to fully discuss and understand several items before you start your IHUTs.

Think about what you want to learn from the research? What are your expectations? What actions will you be taking?

Also, consider who you want to target for product testing? What are their characteristics and demographic information?

How long do you want the participants to test the product? These are all key items that help drive your recruitment screener and process.

 Develop Your Marketing Research Plan

After you’ve examined all potential causes of the problem and have used those questions to boil down exactly what you’re trying to solve, it’s time to build the research plan. Your research plan can be overwhelming to create because it can include any method that will help you answer the research problem or explore an opportunity identified in step one. 

To help you develop the research plan, let’s review a few techniques for conducting research:

  • Interview prospects and customers. Oftentimes, you get the best feedback by using this tactic because you’re going straight to the source. This might take the form of a focus group or one-on-one interviews. Use your defined research problem to help select the right people to interview.
  • Conduct a survey using SurveyMonkey or another tool.
  • Run user tests on your website or landing page(s). This is a cost-effective approach that can provide a lot of insight and data on how your customers or potential customers behave or respond to something, whether it’s new messaging or branding or a modified product or service you are thinking about offering. Simple A/B tests can go a long way in discovering user behavior. Use heatmapping tools, such as Hotjar or Lucky Orange, and website analytics tools, such as Google Analytics or HubSpot analytics, to track results depending on what data you need to collect.

Oftentimes, we do all of this work and gather all of the data—only to realize that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel because someone had already run a similar, credible study or solved the same problem. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to do any research, but learning about what other organizations have done to solve a problem or seize an opportunity can help you tweak your research study and save you time when considering all of the research options. In marketing research, this is called secondary data because it has been collected by someone else, versus the primary data that you would collect through your own research study.

 Find a Market Research Partner

The most challenging and time-consuming piece of new product development research (both qualitative and quantitative) is recruiting.

This is recruiting in terms of finding participants for testing or finding survey respondents for a larger study.

There are several factors you will want to look for in a market research vendor:

  1. First being responsive. Product testing recruitment can be a long process, find a vendor who is responsive and willing to provide regular updates on progress.
  2. Second, find a market research company that is flexible. One that is willing to work and do more to make sure your project is successful.

Obviously other items such as cost, expertise, industry experience, and others come into play as well.

Ultimately, the choice is up to your company and what you deem is most important.

As far as process differentiators, find a market research company who adds rigor to the confirmation process.

Simply signing up participants through an online survey is not enough. Make sure the vendor adds confirmation emails, phone calls, or even texts.

Looking for general tips when conducting new product development research? Watch this 60-second video as we discuss 3 quick tips for new product development research.

 Determine Your Scope

The scope is determined by several factors and many of these overlaps with objectives.

Answer questions like…

  • Who you want to target?
  • How long will the test run?
  • What are the steps and instructions involved in the test?

When it comes to product testing you will want to be as specific as possible, especially if you are sending your shipment to participants to test products act home.

For example, let’s say your company is sending a dish detergent to a client and you need them to download an app to log a diary of usage and feedback around the project for the course of 1-month.

The scope may need to include instructions during shipping such as:

  • Information to download the app
  • Instructions to register a free account
  • Instructions to open and record feedback in the diary
  • How often to test the product
  • Who to call or email with questions

Conclusion

The way you conduct market research, such as your target audience and your competition, will affect the success of your business. Before you start thinking about your business you need to understand the hole it will fill in the marketplace.

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