A Handy Guide To Product Research
You might have a vision of building a remarkably advanced product for your buyers. But the question is- Do they really need it? How do you know that the product you are building is going to appeal to your target market?
The answer is simple. Through product research.
Research by Acquia reveals that 53% of consumers feel brands fail to meet their expectations. This is where product research helps. It enables development and design teams to focus their energy on creating desirable products for the consumers. It will help you clear assumptions and ensure data-driven work.
Keep on reading to know all about it.
What is Product Research?
Product research is the information gathered about customers’ preferences, to identify their needs, understand their expectations of your product, and analyze solutions that you can offer. It helps in the appropriate positioning of the product features with customer needs and directs all your team members to work with a data-driven action plan. Product research is an ongoing process that happens throughout the stages of the product lifecycle.
Why should Product Managers Conduct Product Research?
Is product research worth it? Absolutely! Here is how.
Keeping competitions in check
There is a visible difference in the product output that is developed with research and without research. What are the current trends? What kind of product features your competitors are offering? What is the popularity of a particular feature? What is the price consumers are willing to pay? Research and analysis will give you answers to these vital questions and a lot of others. And guess what will you have at the end? A competitive advantage.
Tool for inventions
Inventions are cool. They are even cooler when you are the one inventing them. And research will help you do just that. If you ask the right questions and have all the information collected in your data bank, you can innovate features that appeal to your consumers.
Important for Goal Validation
Establishing goals is a great way to progress in the correct direction. But are your goals making sense? Suppose one of your goals is to expand to 2 of your neighboring countries by the end of the year. But are you sure there is a need and demand for your product in those countries?. Enter product research and you don’t have to assume anything anymore.
Product Research Stages through the Lifecycle
Product research is a continuous process that happens throughout the lifecycle of the product. Let us learn more about them.
Before the launch of the product
This is the initial stage of research that happens when the product is in the development stage. Carrying out product research in this phase will give you new development ideas to explore. This will also help you reduce unnecessary trial and error methods that are based on assumptions and avoid product development costs in the discarded areas.
Testing and feedback
Testing and feedback happen after your product is developed to a usable extent. A newly developed product is tested with customers to identify their satisfaction and dissatisfaction levels. Since the product is yet to be launched, the development teams can include these reactions as a basis for product improvement and make the necessary changes. There are a few ways to conduct testing. Some of them include in-house, trial offers, etc.
Soft launch refers to the process of revealing the product to a restricted audience ahead of a full launch. It is a crucial exercise for gathering feedback from potential customers. It is the final chance for you to make any changes to the product before baring it out in front of a wider audience. If the soft launch process does not show any signs of success, you may have to revisit the whole process and redesign your product.
If the soft launch is successful, you can look forward to the final launch of your product. Even if the launch is done after testing and retouching the product multiple times, you can get an entirely different result after the launch. Since the product is presented to a wider base, there will be several opinions and feedback coming from different directions. As a product manager, you have to prioritize and sort feedback requests based on their urgency and importance.
How Does Product Research Help the Product Teams?
Product research contributes differently to all the crucial players involved in the process of product development. Let us learn how they help the product teams.
Product Managers are at the helm of the product development process. They supervise and coordinate between different teams to deliver the perfect product. It is their responsibility to understand customer requirements, analyze market conditions and find alignment between team activities.
Being a vital player in the development process, product managers' primary goal is to ensure that all the decisions are data-driven and based on analytics. Some of the common product research methods include market research, surveys, interviews, competitor analysis, etc.
Product designers are at a creative pedestal in the development process. They are responsible for providing a high-value experience to the consumers. The satisfaction level of the users has a lot to do with how the product is designed. This is why product research comes in handy for designers when they are unsure about the type of features they want to put it. Even the most skillful designers will fail if their product does not resonate with customer requirements.
Researchers' key role is to study user behavior, market trends, influences, and other market forces to strategize and plan the development process effectively. They monitor trends to study how users react and behave to product iterations and analyze solutions for improving customer experience. They combine both qualitative and quantitative methods for product research like surveys, interviews, feedback forms, etc to collect data.
Fundamental Methods of Conducting a Product Research
There are several methods of product research. We are going to discuss some of the primary ones.
As the name suggests, concept testing is the process of evaluating the idea or the concept of a product with potential. The use of surveys, polls, and forum discussions are some of the popular methods of concept testing.
There is no use in building a high-quality product with a price so high that there is no one to buy it. Price testing ensures that the correlation between the demand and price of a product is established. This will also help you to determine a suitable price point for earning maximum profit.
This is done before the release of a product in limited areas to determine the performance of the product.
Focus group discussions can be done with a group of users to discuss various aspects of your product like price, quality, the utility of features, user-friendliness, etc.
You can create a test model of your product after you have finished thoroughly researching and testing all the vital areas. You can present the product demos to a few targeted users to help you gain insight into their product experience.
Surveys are common and popular product research methods. You can do it through an online portal, via telephone, on social media, in person, or via mail. Surveys can help you get insights into different aspects of customer experience.
How to Do Product Research?
This guide will be incomplete without taking you through the product research process.
Step 1: Sort out clear definitions of the product
You are building a CRM? Who will be the users? It is industry-specific? How will it benefit the users? Are you catering to any specific age groups? Be very specific about the how, who, and why of the product to get started with.
Step 2: Create customer personas
Creating customer personas will help you understand their behavior trends, their thinking process, and other characteristics to weigh and analyze potential options for a better product creation process.
Step 3: Analyse competitors
Keeping an eye on competitors means you have to do competitor analysis to analyze their position in their market and their popularity with the consumers. What new features are they offering? What is their pricing policy? What are their targeted locations? Understanding your competitor's strategy will help you sharpen yours.
Step 4: Conduct market research
Conducting market research will help you better understand the market landscape. These will include analyzing government policies, social influences, market demography, market stability, and forces.
Step 5: Focus group discussion
We have previously mentioned that focus group discussion is a key method of product research. Now is the perfect time to target and identity an ideal group for discussing the performance of your product.
Step 6: Create product demos
After you have successfully analyzed all the vital players in the market, you can start working on the demos for product testing.
Step 7: Test your product
Before the final launch of your product, you can test it in limited areas to analyze how users respond to it. This will help you to work on the unsatisfactory areas and improve them before the final launch.
Key Elements of a Successful Product Research
There are some things you need to know before getting started with product research. We are not leaving before discussing it with you.
Use valid, accurate, and unbiased data collection methods
A lot of time researchers' own ideas and perspectives color the interpretations and analysis of research which may impact the accuracy of the results. Make sure to use reliable data collection methods and that you understand and analyze data eliminating all the biases and prejudices from your mind
Go through secondary sources of information including existing research material
If you scan through the internet, you will already get tons of market and trade reports. Before directly jumping into the market with your research tools, make sure you leverage the existing research material to have a comprehensive understanding of the current market landscape.
Utilize segmentation to achieve goals
Categorize your research findings based on goals so that you and your team can dedicate specific time and resources towards their achievement. It can help you position your short-term and long-term goals in an efficient manner.
So that was a short, sweet, and actionable guide for product research. If you incorporate all the key points mentioned above and brainstorm with your team, you can surely be able to knock out any competition and emerge as one of the leading players in the industry.
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