Consumer research is sometimes underestimated in the process of product strategy development – whether it relates to a new product or the one that is already established on the market. What is forgotten at times is that customer requirements play the most important role in product management. They are of particular importance at the stage of concept development and introducing the offer to the market. However, at other times their role should not be underestimated either. At each stage of product development, managers need to rely on research and supplement it with feedback received directly from customers.
Consumer research depending on the stage of a product’s life-cycle
When we realise at which stage of development a given product is, it will be much easier for us to plan the process and methods of collecting information from customers.
Below we present the most commonly used consumer research types. We also indicate the business context in which each method proves to be most successful:
- Introduction a product on the market – market potential assessment, needs analysis, price evaluation, competition analysis.
- Growth of product sales – distribution analysis, promotion research, customer satisfaction assessment, analysis of use and attitudes.
- Product maturity – brand positioning, market segmentation, market potential assessment, market monitoring.
- Decline of product sales – searching for new markets, analysis of merger and acquisitions possibilities, monitoring of the market situation.
Consumer research at the stage of launching a new product on the market
The most commonly used consumer research methods applied in business practice are limited to individual and group interviews and sensory analyses. Yet, sometimes that does not suffice to develop an effective strategy for a new product.
Below we present a broader approach to consumer research at the stage of new product strategy development. Consecutive stages of product launch alongside research methods that should be applied at each stage:
- Preparation – establishing framework for further work (e.g. manufacturing capacity, global strategy), preliminary determination of the target group (e.g. omnibus survey).
- Selection of ideas – gathering ideas within the organization, estimating the likelihood of success of each of those ideas, determination of KPIs (key performance indicators), focus groups, online bulletin board, in-depth interviews.
- Concept testing – defining the needs of customers, usability tests (e.g. conjoint, measurements on scales).
- Prototype testing – sensory tests, focus groups.
- Marketing tests – focus groups, stimulated marketing tests.