Product research is the secret ingredient that can make or break a company’s success.
Without it, businesses are like blind chefs, cooking products without understanding what the target audience likes and dislikes.
Take Coke, for example, and how it failed with “New Coke” miserably even after rigorous testing with 200,000 consumers due to the lack of market and product research.
And that’s where understanding your customers helps. By gathering insights about your target customers, you can create product solutions that resonate with them and add value to their lives.
When customers find value in your product offerings, it ultimately leads to improved engagement, conversions, and retention.
It all comes down to proper product research, which we have for you in the store today.
In this article, we’ll cover how to conduct product research, some useful tips, and where you can apply them.
What Is Product Research?
Just as a hiker uses a compass to find the right path to reach the destination, a business can use product research to discover the right direction for its products from the ideation stage.
It involves gaining insights into customers’ needs, pain points, and preferences. By conducting product research, a company can create products that meet the needs of its customers and stand out in a crowded market.
When everyone’s competing over customer and product experiences, product research can be a powerful tool that gives a business an edge over its rivals.
You can use different methodologies like surveys to gather feedback from users and customers to create seamless product experiences and promote growth.
CASE STUDY: TWILIO
Twilio’s APIs are a powerful toolset for creating various types of apps, including SMS, voice calling, and video calling. Because of the diverse customer base and product applications, the team at Twilio had to optimize multiple onboarding experiences for different APIs.
To better understand the user experience for each tool, Twilio utilized Qualaroo, a product and customer feedback survey tool, to gather insights and improve the onboarding process.
According to Laura Schaffer, Product Manager for Twilio’s Experimentation Platform, “There are so many ways to approach this challenge. The hard part usually isn’t coming up with the hypotheses for what might work best – it’s knowing which are the right ones to try first.”
Laura also notes that using targeted customer feedback can quickly transform opinion-based ideas into data-backed ones in just a few minutes.
Why Is Product Research Crucial for Business Success?
Product research encompasses a lot of areas and processes foundational to a business’ success. Here are a few points on why you should leverage product research in order to grow your business.
- It helps identify customer needs. For example, a company creating a new line of skincare products may want to conduct product research to find out what specific skin concerns their customers have, such as dryness or acne.
- You can reduce the risk of wasted resources by not investing in an unsuccessful product idea. For example, say you own a watch company. You can conduct product research to determine if there is demand for a new type of smartwatch before investing in its development.
- It’s great for competitive analysis. For example, suppose you have a food delivery business. Then, you can research the features and pricing of other meal delivery services to better position your product in the market.
- You can use product research to get valuable feedback on product prototypes or early versions. This feedback can help you make data-driven decisions on how to improve the product before it is released.
4 Essential Types of Product Research for Your Business
Product research touches upon many areas of a business. You can use the insights from product research directly into development, marketing, and optimization to deliver delightful products and experiences.
1. User Research
User research focuses on the end users, their needs, buying preferences, demographics, and online behaviors.
Here, product research offers insights into current trends. This way, businesses can evaluate those trends with customer behavior insights and gauge how they interact with products to prepare for product updates and new feature releases that customers can benefit from.
In the case of a brand-new product, product research can help product managers identify the most sought-after features or address specific customer pain points. It also offers a higher scope for innovation and unique solutions to find the right product-market fit.
2. Product Design Research
Another reason why product research is important is that it enriches the design process. Simply brainstorming with your product development team doesn’t always end in a user-centered product.
Product designers need access to behavioral insights, such as customers’ behavior, interaction with UI design elements, etc., to identify improvement areas and develop solutions that offer a seamless experience.
Performing product research in the design phase helps avoid critical UX mistakes, saving businesses precious resources.
3. Product Validation
Along with market and user research, product research also validates a product idea.
Once the product teams understand the relationship between users and products, making data-based decisions, pitching product ideas, and creating roadmaps become easier.
Doing so also helps align your product and business goals to ensure everything is streamlined.
4. Price Research
Pricing is as important a feature of a product as functionality and performance. And just like other aspects of your product, deciding the pricing model demands dedicated to research.
Product research helps teams measure product demand in correlation with the price. A product with high demand and basic features can be placed in a relatively affordable category.
But a product with extensive features and scalability may require custom pricing models. This way, organizations can create an effective pricing strategy to get the most out of their product.
7 Effective Ways to Do Product Research Successfully
The first obstacle in any process is not knowing where to start. Fortunately, you won’t face this problem. Here are a few practical methods to conduct product research for your business:
1. Conduct Surveys for First-Hand Insights
Online surveys are your best bet if you’re looking for a low-effort yet highly effective method to begin your product research.
You can collect real-time product feedback from your active users without waiting for them to respond to your survey emails with numerous reminders.
Because these surveys can be triggered to appear in certain situations or when a certain action is performed, you can collect contextual customer insights.
You can even launch multiple surveys with different intents to gather both qualitative and quantitative data. Customer experience tools like Qualaroo let you embed surveys on the site, app, and product.
You can even leverage branching and skip logic to gather different data types from various customer segments and further improve data quality and relevance.
For example, you can take customer feedback on specific features and elements to understand their experience.
If you want to expand an existing product’s features, you can collect feedback by embedding surveys in your live chat tool to understand their experience.
CASE STUDY: UDEMY
Udemy is an e-learning platform that provides a diverse range of courses designed by industry experts. Udemy implemented Qualaroo’s pop-up surveys within its courses to evaluate the performance of its AI-based subtitles feature. The surveys provided contextual feedback allowing Udemy to enhance the automatic subtitles.
2. Use Heatmaps and Session Recordings for Behavioral Insights
With tools such as heatmaps, you can make your products more sophisticated and user-centered. You can track how users interact with the product in real-time, use certain features and elements, and the challenges they face on the way to completing a task.
With such actionable insights, designing perfect solutions and resolving those issues becomes easy.
You can also leverage session recordings to analyze user behavior at different touch points to understand their experience and update your product accordingly.
What’s more, you can combine the insights from behavioral tools with those from surveys to visualize the customer journey across your product.
For example, if you receive a substantial number of tickets about a particular setting or product flow, you can deploy surveys using Qualaroo on the page to collect insights from users.
Then combine this with the session replays to understand where users face the problems to optimize the process (user flow).
Tools like Qualaroo offer native integration APIs to connect behavioral tools with survey feedback.
You can try Qualaroo’s seamless integration with SessionCam to combine your feedback and behavioral user insights.
3. Customer Interviews for One-on-One Feedback
If you wish to explore customers’ product experiences on a more personal level, you can conduct interviews and focus group sessions to understand each aspect of their journey.
It will not only enlighten you on the problem areas but also let you explore the best possible solutions with your customers.
4. Create Relevant Demographic Customer Segments
Segmentation or targeting based on demographics enables you to find the right audience for your product offerings. Demographic data encompasses a range of data like gender, age, education level, and income.
All these components play a huge role in your customers’ needs, how they will interact with the product, and determining the pricing model. So, if you have this information, creating a user-centric product offering a remarkable experience becomes easy.
For example, let’s say an apparel company is designing a new line of high-end running shoes. By segmenting its potential customers by age and income, the company can gain insights into which groups are most likely to be interested in and willing to pay a premium price for the product.
It may find that individuals between the ages of 25-40 who earn above a certain income level are the most likely to be interested in its high-end running shoes.
The information can help the company tailor its marketing to the specific demographic or develop features that appeal to this age and income group.
CASE STUDY: AWA Digital (Canon)
AWA Digital specializes in helping clients improve their online sales. One of their clients, Canon, a prominent company in the imaging technology industry, approached AWA to boost demand for their products in various countries.
To better understand Canon’s target audience, AWA Digital used popup surveys in different countries. The surveys were deployed on Canon’s website, asking customers several questions about the brand and its products.
The feedback from different demographics revealed that some customers were dissatisfied with the pricing of cameras in certain regions, while others prioritized the authenticity and reputation of the brand in other regions.
Using this feedback, AWA Digital was able to segment personalized messaging for different regions to address these concerns and explore upsell opportunities, resulting in a 700% ROI for Canon.
5. Understand and Utilize Customer Motivations
Like customer behavior and needs, understanding what motivates them helps you design your product and marketing strategies accordingly. With product research, you can pinpoint your target audience’s motivators and leverage them for product success.
These motivators can be something conscious, i.e., customers know their challenges and what they want from your product. Or they can be subconscious, such as they follow certain market trends. Either way, that’s something you can uncover during your product research.
Read Also: The Qualaroo Guide to Product/Market Fit
6. Browse Social Curation Sites for Reviews
As it’s popularly said, be where your customers are, for that’s how you’ll know how they feel about you. Third-party review sites and social media platforms are the hot zones for customer reviews.
People love sharing their experiences with brands online, influencing many prospects. So, actively track customer sentiment and reviews to stay on top of customer trends and create a solution that your customers will find useful.
7. Usability Testing to Validate New Ideas
Usability testing is a critical tool for validating new product ideas. It allows companies to gather feedback on the user experience on products and make data-driven decisions on product development.
Usability testing typically involves recruiting participants who represent the target audience for the product and observing their interactions with a prototype or early version of the product.
This process can reveal usability issues, pain points, and areas where the product could be improved. The insights from the usability testing can help you refine your product ideas and ensure they meet the needs of the intended users.
For example, a company is developing a new mobile app for grocery shopping. To validate the product idea, it can conduct usability testing with a group of participants representing its target audience, such as busy parents or college students.
It can observe how these participants use the app to create a grocery list, search for products, and complete their purchases.
They may get diverse results, such as:
- Users may have difficulty navigating the app’s menus or finding certain items
- The navigation is confusing in certain places
- The app crashes while performing some specific tasks, etc.
These insights will help identify opportunities to fix the identified bugs, streamline the checkout process, add new features that users find helpful, and more.
8 Essential Product Research Tips to Get Ahead of the Game
Since you know by now what goes into conducting product research, it’s better to also cover the best practices and tips you can use during your research.
1. Ask Your Customers
Product research begins with your customers. After all, they are the end users. So, while you try to identify customer trends by monitoring their behavior, it works well to ask your customers directly.
You can share your product/feature ideas with them to validate. For example, Open Atlas, an open-source database software, employs email campaigns to ask its customers to choose the best product ideas the company comes up with.
You can also use in-app surveys to launch surveys in your product and website to understand what customers want and need.
Another way to collect valuable customer insights is through tools like ProProfs Chat where you can launch surveys in the live chat tool. You can also leverage ProProfs Helpdesk to uncover what customers seek in your product.
2. Explore the Gaps in the Market
It’s impossible for you to reinvent the wheel for every product. And that’s okay. Sometimes, opportunities lie between customers’ needs and what’s being offered.
Thorough competitive and comparative analysis will allow you to scan the market and identify the gaps.
Let’s understand this better with an example. Suppose you run an online store selling athletic wear, but your sales aren’t growing as fast as you’d like.
You perform comparative and competitive analysis on your online competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and find a growing demand for high-quality, affordable athletic wear for men.
By adding a new line of athletic wear for men and marketing it as a unique selling point, you can attract new customers and grow your online business. Know in detail how you can analyze the gap in the market and find opportunities to grow.
3. Consistently Collect Qualitative and Quantitative Research
As we briefly discussed, qualitative and quantitative insights offer a full picture of customers, the market, and where your product/product idea stands.
With hard cold quantitative data, you can validate your product ideas, and with qualitative insights, you can understand how your customers think and behave. You can blend these insights to create something outstanding.
For example, you can launch an NPS survey asking customers if they’d recommend your product to others and add a follow-up question asking them why they gave a particular rating.
This way, you’ll get quantitative data from the NPS score and qualitative insights from the follow-up contextual question.
4. Choose the Right Tools for Research
Customer data is the backbone of your product research. If you don’t have reliable and accurate data, you may make business decisions based on wrong insights and waste your resources.
That’s why having the right product research tools in your tech stack is crucial to collect useful and actionable insights. Here are a few product research tools recommendations:
- Qualaroo for conducting surveys.
- Google Analytics for monitoring product demand, customer’s shopping behavior, etc.
- SessionCams for heatmaps and analyzing customer behavior.
- Usabilla for usability testing.
- ProProfs Quiz Maker for creating effective quizzes.
You can refer to this list of top market research tools that can also be used during product research.
5. Segment Results Based on Business Goals
To make the most of your product research, you need to use the data to make effective decisions and improvements. Segmentation can help you categorize the collected data based on your business goals.
For example, if you run an online store and notice a drop in sales for a particular product, you might segment your research to focus on customer feedback and preferences.
Later, when you plan to launch new products, you can use this information to address gaps or issues from the previous product and create a more successful launch.
By segmenting your research, you can align your short-term and long-term goals to make your research more valuable for future use.
6. Track User Preferences
Numerous factors affect customers’ behavior, which defines how they research a product, their preferred shopping methods, and so on.
That’s where you can leverage product research to deep-dive into customers’ psyche and align your business strategies accordingly.
You can use tools like ProProfs Quiz Maker to design engaging quizzes to help you collect data on customer preferences.
7. Know What They Think About You
Understanding customers’ opinions on your brand and product and their views on your competitors is important to persuade them to purchase from you.
It is equally essential to understand their opinion on their problems and how they intend to address them.
Do your thoughts align with theirs on the solutions you provide? So, it is imperative to grasp your customers’ thought process to market your product effectively.
One way to go about it for existing products is conducting CSAT surveys (customer satisfaction) to understand their experience and then follow up with contextual questions to dig deeper.
Bonus Read: Getting to Know the Voice of Customer
8. Distinguish Wants From Needs
What customers want can be entirely different than what they need. Want arises from desire, and need arises from necessity. And so, it is critical to do the due diligence to differentiate the two before moving to the development phase.
Take Uber as a product research example. If they had focused on what customers wanted to resolve their traveling challenges more than what they needed, we might not have Uber or the concept of ride-hailing at all.
Create Products Your Customers Want With the Right Insights
Customer insights are the lifeblood of product research. Your customers hold the key to your success.
Understanding your customers is the first step in creating products that truly resonate with them. And the beauty of it all? You’ll be able to do it confidently, knowing that your product is backed by real data.
Whether through surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews, collecting customer insights is essential in understanding their needs and preferences.
But let’s not forget that collecting insights correctly is crucial for successful product research. Make sure you’re using the right tools and methods to gather accurate and relevant data. After all, the last thing you want is to base your decisions on misleading information.
Frequently Asked Questions:
In short, product research is about the product itself, while market research is about the market surrounding the product.
You can start with product research for your business by collecting customer feedback and qualitative and quantitative insights.
During your product research, you can perform competitive analysis for similar products and market research to see demand for your product idea.
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