Whether you’re wanting to create a new product or revamp an existing one, learning how to conduct product development research is crucial. Without establishing an understanding of product development research ahead of time, you could potentially waste precious time and money on unnecessary practices. In this article, we’ll take you step-by-step through the product development research process and help you find practices that suit your needs.
What is Product Development Research?
Product development refers to the complete process of brainstorming, researching, crafting, marketing, and selling products. Long story short, product development is the collective process in which a new product is created and sold. Product development also includes updating existing products; for example, when you add new features or modify an existing product, it is considered product development.
Research is an integral part of this product development process. It allows you to validate your ideas using data and ensure your product will resonate with consumers, compete within the market, hit the right price, and more. Without conducting research before launching, your product may not reach its fullest potential.
From concept testing to loyalty research, product development research consists of different processes and tests. Not all steps and tests may apply to your product development journey. This varies depending on whether you’re launching a new product, updating an existing one, what research or ideas you already have, etc.
Now, let’s dive into the product development research process.
Why Product Development Research Is Important
Product development is a major investment of funds, time, and energy for you and your entire organization. With all that at stake, you need a way to know that the product or feature you’re developing will be successful. Product development research gives you those answers at integral stages of the development process. This research can tell you if you’re on the right track or need to pivot some of your development while also giving you data that can garner the buy-in you need from leadership or potentially recruit more investors.
The Product Development Research Process
Consider this your step-by-step product development guide. If you are creating a new product from scratch, follow each step. If you are updating an existing product, use the complete guide to develop an added feature or at the appropriate step for your product.
Step 1: Exploratory Research
First things first, you’ll need to do some exploratory research. This is the preliminary research that helps you find a direction to go in. To get started, think about the pain point you will solve for your customers. Ask yourself questions like:
- What product/product feature could make customers’ lives easier?
- What problem can I alleviate for customers?
- What do customers need? What needs are not being addressed?
- Are customers satisfied with the products currently available? If not, what’s missing?
Once you identify the customer pain point you wish to solve, gather some teammates for a brainstorming session or write down a list of ideas. Get as many ideas out there as you can—they will be refined in the upcoming steps. Continue to keep the customer pain point in mind and think outside of the box. We’ll figure out the details later.
Now, you can quickly run your ideas through a SWOT analysis and start eliminating the lagging ones. SWOT analysis refers to:
- Strengths: What does your product do well? What distinguishes your product from competitors?
- Weaknesses: What does your product lack? What do competitors do better than you?
- Opportunities: How can you leverage your product’s strengths? What trends can you take advantage of?
- Threats: Who are your emerging competitors? What obstacles does the product face?
SWOT analysis will give you a better understanding of your product ideas at every angle and allows you to assess the pros and cons of each one.
Step 2: Evaluative Research
Evaluative research helps you further evaluate your concepts and identify the ones that are worth moving forward with. Also, this is a great place to start if you need to reevaluate an existing product.
Here you will open the data collection beyond you and your team by conducting research through surveys or other consumer-focused methods. Surveys allow you to tap into a larger pool of respondents and gather detailed data about your concepts. You’ll be able to get feedback, better understand your target market, and refine your ideas.
Here are some questions you can ask respondents:
- How often do you use this product/feature?
- Does this product/feature help you solve your problem?
- How satisfied are you with this product/feature?
- What would you change about this product/feature?
Similarly, concept testing is a great study to run at this stage in order to iron out the details of your concepts; We’ll talk more about concept testing later in this article.
This feedback will give you guidance on where to take your concept next and begin to set the tone for your marketing strategy. Pay attention to who your customers are and the language they speak in order to inspire your marketing messaging.
You’ll also want to do some basic competitive analysis at this stage. Get a grasp of the amount/worth of the competition in your industry. Using customer feedback and competitive analysis, you can identify what’s missing in your industry, discover your niche, and build a competitive advantage.
Step 3: Iterative Development and Finalization
At this point, you should be left with a realistic idea of what your product will look like, and you just need to sort out the details. In this stage, you will finalize your product by analyzing specific features and making sure your customers’ pain points are eliminated.
You may want to conduct another concept test using your refined ideas to test features that may not have been tested the first time around. A/B testing can also be useful to compare different versions of the product and features and make decisions based on your results.
You will also need to conduct pricing research before launching your product in order to ensure that you and your customers will get the right value.
Types of Product Development Studies
There are various studies you can run during your product development journey, each of which covers a different area of your product and brand. These studies can be carried out in different ways such as focus groups, interviews, or surveys. We recommend running product development studies using surveys in order to get both quantitative and qualitative data from a larger audience.
Let’s look at the different product development studies.
Customer experience studies are one of the best ways to get holistic feedback about your product, marketing strategy, and brand from customers.
This study would be most helpful towards the end of the product development process or once the product is launched; You’ll want to make sure that customers have the chance to experience the product before they provide feedback on it.
Understanding customer loyalty and the value they place on your product and brand is an important aspect of customer experience that shouldn’t be dismissed. Remember: Keeping existing customers is much easier than recruiting new ones.
Learn how to measure customer experience and loyalty in our guide to improving customer experience.
As we previously mentioned, concept testing is a helpful and often essential tool in product development, especially when conducting evaluative research and iterative development.
Concept testing is the process of gathering your target market’s opinions about your idea it is made available to the public or is fully developed. It allows you to adjust your vision and features prior to product production.
We’ve collected the best concept testing practices in these 4 steps to concept testing research.
Of course, it’s great to focus on perfecting your product, but you cannot do this without evaluating the rest of the industry. Scope out your industry’s size, its value, and the top players. Create competitive advantages by turning your competitors’ weaknesses into your strengths. Consider why customers should buy from you over your competitors. Competitively price your product.
And don’t forget – the market is always changing. Don’t stop your research after your product launches. Continue to stay up to date with industry trends and the competition in order to get ahead.
Pricing research is an essential step in product development. Finding the right price can be a challenge; You need to find a price that is high enough to bring in profit, but low enough to stay in demand.
To get this right, you’ll need to examine the competitors’ prices, find your price premium, and discover consumers’ willingness to pay.
Luckily, we’ve compiled a simple guide on how to conduct a pricing survey so you can get started.
How to Get Started with Product Development Market Research
Now that you understand the impact product development market research can have, how do you get started and put that new knowledge to use? Follow these simple steps and you’ll be reaping the rewards before you know it.
Step 1: Set Your Objectives
Start by establishing what you want to learn from your product development market research. Answer questions such as:
- What do you want to measure in your research?
- What aspects of your product do you want to research (e.g., specific features, how it suits a particular group of customers, etc.)?
- What is your primary goal – to determine if your product development is going in the right direction, to gather data to assure investors that their investment in your product is sound, or both?
Step 2: Determine the Scope of Work
Now that you have the big picture in mind, it’s time to get into more of the specifics of planning your product development market research. Make decisions in more detail about how you will carry out your research. For example:
- Who do you want to survey (age ranges, genders, locations, and so on)?
- What types of questions will you ask?
- How will you format your research (for example, will you show the respondents an image and description of the product, or will you send them a prototype to try and then survey them after they use it)?
- How many participants do you want to survey?
- How long will your research study run?
Step 3: Find Your Participants
With a solid plan in place, the next step is to gather your participants. The easiest way to do this is to choose a survey platform that can source participants for you. You already know what characteristics you want to look for in your participants, so a survey platform like GroupSolver can use survey pools and screeners to pull in your target participants.
Research and Product Development Made Simple
From product ideation and concept testing to competitive analysis and pricing research, GroupSolver® is here to help you collect data on every step of your product development journey. We’ll guide your product development decisions using your customer’s voice and agile insights – all in real-time.
View, analyze, and segment both quantitative and qualitative data with our intelligent survey platform. Our AI Open-End™ technology organizes and quantifies qualitative data, so you don’t have to. Now, you can quickly analyze qualitative data, while also collecting useful quantitative data – all in one step.
GroupSolver conducted product development research to help a snack food brand to launch a new flavor into the market, an iconic home products brand introduce a themed sandwich bag, and hundreds more launch successful products.