When done right, market research is an invaluable tool for success-testing concepts. Both qualitative and quantitative methods have evolved substantially to enable accurate insights on how the market will react to your original idea or product extension.What do we mean by "done right"? There are multiple success tests that need to be applied. Unfortunately, many researchers stop at the first one. Here is a check list to use to craft questions for your next research project:
Does it fill a need? This is the most basic question and as I said, so many research projects spend all their time and valuable survey/discussion guide real estate trying to answer this one question.
If it fills a need, does it inspire? Dollar Shave Club is a prime example. Yes, the concept filled a need-more cost effective shaving solutions breaking free of the Gillette/Schick duopoly. But it also inspired. Consumers were inspired to take action as it represented a freedom from the tyranny of expensive razor blades and the company quickly built a stellar customer list. Last week, Unilever announced its intention to acquire the company. At a $1 billion valuation with only 15 employees, it is definitely inspiring!
Can it be executed in an outstanding or unique way? In Dollar Shave Club's case, free YouTube videos and other social media accomplished what would have taken millions of dollars in traditional advertising and media. The time to ask if a unique breakthrough execution is possible is at the success testing stage. Qualitative group sessions are ideal venues for brainstorming how.
How can it be "true art"? In earlier posts, I have linked customer experience design to company value and financial performance. Apple is the classic example but many others abound. The question to ask here is given that the concept fills a need, inspires action and can be executed in a unique way, what would elevate product and experience design to a great art form? The answer may come from surprising places-a unique twist to how the product is packaged or shipped or some small detail in the total experience the customer has with your product and company. The Blue Moon orange is a shining example of this.
Can it be BIGGER? Not all products are built to conquer the world. Many products simply occupy unique niches and fill simple needs well. But every product marketer owes it to themselves to look beyond and ask how their concept or execution could be bigger. And how much bigger? Again, concept testing research is a great place to explore this. Projective questioning techniques can be tailored to explore. The trick is to keep the survey instrument as open ended as possible. Too often, clients jam survey instruments with "everything and the kitchen sink" leaving little room for open ended exploration. Lots of wide open white space is a good rule for your next research design.
Alan Nazarelli is President and CEO of Silicon Valley Research Group, a global market research and strategy development firm focused on the needs of technology companies.
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