Presented by GLG
Not only does customer research increase the value of your products and services, it ultimately drives growth and innovation. For insight into nailing customer-focused product development at every stage of the process, from ideation to development to launch, don’t miss this VB On-Demand event.
Product development begins with the identification of unmet needs, then idea prioritization and concept testing, to product and pricing assessment and finally usability and message testing. And at every stage, customer research is crucial, says Manasvi Thawani, director of research insights, GLG.
“The insights you gain from research not only help eliminate internal biases, but also make product development a data-driven decision-making process,” Thawani says. “You could be investing a lot of money up front, going to market months or years later, only to hear your customers and prospects say, this is not aligned with what we need. Investing in research at the start helps you win on the other side.”
It’s crucial to embed product development research within the overarching product development life cycle, to ensure that every single new offering is backed by data and insights, so that investments throughout are vetted through a market-driven view.
Product development in economic downturn
In the current economic environment, budgets for new concept development tend to shrink — but that gives companies the opportunity to look inward and focus on existing products.
“There’s a shift toward optimizing existing products and offerings by focusing more on the feature-functionality level,” Thawani says. “As a result, product optimization becomes a core focus. From there, it’s crucial to focus on the pricing aspect, to ensure that the new features that you’re bringing to your product or offering are being valued correctly — and you can actually gain back the time and resources invested by selling it to your market at the right value.”
The next stages are also key: message testing to ensure that marketers are communicating the value effectively, along with segmentation or persona work, to make sure that you are targeting the right sets of buyers with the right product offerings.
But though budgets are shrinking, companies shouldn’t stop innovating, she says. Even if they’re smaller value investments than in typical times, they help you gain a competitive advantage, and position the company for future success when public demand is back.
Where research fits in
On the B2C side of business, you’re always researching the end user, or the consumer, Thawani says. On the B2B side, the buying center has evolved over the last decade. For instance, in the SaaS world, the CIO office and senior leaders within IT traditionally held the buying power, but today a lot of that has shifted to the business centers. Research on the B2B side of the world includes a larger set of people, talking to the actual business roles who will be using your solution. The B2B side also doesn’t require the same kind of scale that consumer research needs in order to accurately reflect end customer sentiments, given that there’s more standardization.
Quantitative research on a typical B2B project tends to be around a maximum of 100 to 200 respondents. Qualitative research, including in-depth interviews and focus groups, is typically used for more of the exploratory work to help define and form some hypotheses. Together, they give you a deep view into the mind of the buyer.
“For example, surveys demonstrate what resonates for a particular segment,” Thawani says. “Qualitative research gives you the nuances and rationale behind why you’re seeing the data a certain way. Qualitative is great at answering the whys.”
But today there’s also an enormous amount of data available to companies through social listening platforms, offering insight into up-to-the-minute conversations and interests that are a powerful tool for product development.
“No matter where you are in your journey, the investment put into research is always something that pays off,” she says. “Spending some of those dollars while you’re still in the development life cycle and getting some early input data adds so much more value. The fail fast mentality — knowing when to go back to the drawing board before throwing all your resources into a gamble, is so important.”
To learn more about the ways insight- and data-driven product development makes companies more competitive, how to optimize the cycle from ideation to launch and more, don’t miss this VB On-Demand event.
- Identifying unmet needs from early stages through to product launch
- Methodical approaches to achieve critical insights
- Identifying key target groups
- Uncovering customer needs and pain points
- Validating the potential of your product
- Optimize launch and product communications
- Manasvi Thawani, Director of Research Insights, GLG
- Hungyen Nguyen, Senior Engagement Manager, Research Insights, GLG
- Art Cole, Moderator, VentureBeat