Product Development & Market Research: Do You Know How They Relate?
There are multiple different aspects that are involved in the product development process. This is something that INTEGRIS puts a lot of our energy and resources into when we tackle our client projects. Consumer demands are growing faster than ever and new product development is crucial in keeping up with those demands. Growth and development require a continuous stream of new ideas, product updates, and new category innovations. This is where market research comes into action. How can a product be created without data from the market? It can’t. Simple as that. Without market research, there would be no information to base the product development process on. Without all of this important input from the market, it would be nearly impossible to create/ideate, test and validate, and manufacture successful products at a speed to stay competitive and fulfill consumer demands.
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Early stage concept testing is a crucial step in the product development process. The idea behind early stage concept testing is to help ensure that businesses thoroughly assess any ideas being contemplated for further development before investing any substantial amounts of money and resources to the product. It all starts with contemplating product ideas which can be gathered from multiple sources such as consumer recommendations/demands, staff ideas, specific market trends, emerging categories and technologies, and competitive innovation. The team will then collect consumer feedback to determine which ideas are viable for further development. That consumer feedback is a part of the market research. These tests are fortunately becoming a quick, affordable, and much more efficient process due to developing technology platforms. These types of tests allow companies to quickly and easily gather feedback from all of the appropriate consumers.
Market research also plays a vital role in the product package testing. Consumers want to purchase products that have attractive packaging, whether they realize it or not. Don’t believe me? OK then, ask yourself: “Do I want the bottle of soda in the bottle I usually get? Or do I want the bottle of soda with the visually appealing graphics, brands, and images on it?” Which bottle did you choose? You probably chose the bottle with a visually appealing label with a cool brand on it and a pretty label right? Don’t worry, I choose that one every time too. Coke & Pepsi are a good example of product package testing. The two companies have tested multiple designs and logos to find the perfect one, and they are still battling it out. It’s all a part of the attraction to the product, and market research plays an important role in that. Without researching what consumers like, want, and use, then how would we know how to appropriately target those consumers? It would be almost impossible to effectively reach that target audience without doing some research first.
Coke vs. Pepsi Package War
Image source: http://headleystupid.blogspot.com/2013/05/jason-collins-someone-i-havent-known.html
Product development doesn’t always mean introducing a new product to the market, it can also include existing product improvement/development. Companies that have a product that is their big seller are going to adapt and change it accordingly to the changing consumer trends and wants. A fantastic example that always comes to my mind is Nike. Nike may have started off with one or two product offerings for their shoes, but as they grew in popularity, people began demanding different versions of the shoes. So, Nike had to put their market research and product development shoes on (LOL, see what I did there?) and begin developing new and improved variations of their products, and now look where they are. The combination of these two processes allowed Nike to prioritize consumer requests and demands to focus on product variations that would likely perform well with the consumers.
Nike Product Development
Image source: http://www.nikebiz.com/crreport/content/environment/4-3-2-highlights-of-our-work.php?cat=climate-and-energy
So, you’ve got this great product that is your “bread & butter” for your company. Sales are good, but could be better. You’re reaching your target audience effectively, but yet you’re still convinced something is missing. This is where the product development process dives into finding new markets and audiences for existing products. General Electric (GE) is probably one of the best examples of this type of new market penetration. GE initially started as a power and light company producing light bulbs and electricity as the two technologies were emerging. Now, they are in industries ranging from electricity to healthcare to working on the International Space Station. GE started with a product, continued their market research to determine consumer needs, and now they are one of the biggest companies in the world. See what a bit of research and product development can create? It’s pretty incredible!
GE Market Penetration
Image source: http://seekingalpha.com/article/2313025-is-general-electric-the-perfect-company
The last point I’m going to hit is identifying opportunities within the market. Companies collect ideas for new products from a lot of different sources. Those ideas can come from employees, consumer suggestions, and opinions, and from analyzing industry and market trends. These are great to pay attention to, but it is also important to research and analyze your competitor’s products and their product development efforts. This is a very important aspect of market research and by tracking what your competitors are doing you get some great insight on which new (or existing) products consumers are paying the most attention to, providing easy identification of opportunities in the market.
Image source: http://engineering.integrisgp.com/
So, if you’re still with me you can see the importance of meshing these two processes together. Without the combination of product development and market research, the product is most likely doomed, unless you get really, really lucky! INTEGRIS is a product development and engineering company that takes advantages of market research at each of the stages I’ve talked about. We provide new product ideas as well as monitoring the markets, competition, and existing product opportunities to ensure our clients’ products succeed. If you want to receive more information about our product development process then please contact us with any questions you have! We are here to provide answers for you and your company. It’s what INTEGRIS does, proving that “You’re not in it alone”.
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