Method Academy: how to accelerate marketing and product development with consumer insights
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How research helps to create great products and marketing campaigns
In this tutorial, we will look at two key processes: product development and marketing. Then, using these processes, we explain when and how to apply market research.
We often view product development and marketing as two separate processes within an organisation. Yet, they feed into one common business objective: sell to customers and subsequently drive business growth.

You can have different people or the same people dealing with product development and marketing, depending on the size of your business. In agile organisations, product developers and marketers are involved in both processes. Whatever the structure, it makes no difference to a consumer or a customer: they see the end result, which is the product or service they are motivated to buy.

Let's look at product development and marketing as two separate processes. This way, we understand their roles and objectives in more detail.

  • Product development cycle objectives: develop and launch a product
  • Marketing objectives: brand and promote a product or a service to a target audience

It all starts with consumer 'needs'

Products satisfy consumers' needs, and marketing communicates the link between their needs and the product. So, the consumer need determines the direction of the product idea.

Take a famous example from the JTBD (Jobs To Be Done) approach. Consumers don't need a hole in the wall if they want to hang up a picture. Instead, they need something to fix that picture on the wall. Therefore, a product that helps them achieve this is a winner.

Once we have identified a consumer need, we can start thinking about a product that will satisfy that need. It could be a drill and a screw, a nail or blue tack if we use the example above. There are various options where you get to be creative and think of your own innovative ideas.
At the product development stage, innovators may want to keep the following in mind:

  • What consumer need is your product tackling? (Otherwise known as "consumer insight").
Example: 'I need to hang up a picture in the easiest way (as I am rubbish at DIY). I am looking for an easy-to-use solution that will help me to do it, but I also want my picture to look neat and stay in its place without falling off'.

  • What are the key product benefits that address this need?
Example: a product that is suitable for DIY newbies, easy to use and provides solid hold.

  • Which features might help people to believe that your product is, in fact, the best solution for them? (So-called RTBs or reasons-to-believe.)
  • Who might be interested in your product
That's the target audience, socio-demographic profile, buying behaviours, and sometimes additional information such as usage.
Once you understand how your product will take shape, it then goes to marketing. They create the relevant communications to sell the product. The product team will inform marketing about the target audience, their needs, and how the product can address those needs and the assumed benefits of the product.

In the chart below, you can see how those two significant processes are interlinked.
How and when to apply market research
The process of product development and marketing/communication development are very much alike.

Let's look at the common aspects that are relevant for product development and an advert:



  • Both cycles start with an idea.
  • The idea is tested and prepared for launch.
  • Finally, the idea gets developed, launched and the work done on the project is evaluated.
In all of the above stages, research is valuable, and this is why:

  • At the idea stage — research helps generate product and marketing ideas and put them into words that consumers will easily understand.

  • At the testing stage — selecting viable ideas before developing and investing substantial financial, time and human resources.

  • At the development stage — selecting the most optimal option for launch and how to make the best product faster.

  • At the evaluation stage — evaluate quantitative product characteristics, such as sales and conversion, and qualitative characteristics, answering such questions as "Why does the product work in that way" and generate ideas for further development.

You can achieve all of the above through consumer/user feedback which helps to increase the chances of success for your product.
Research is consumer / user feedback at all stages of the product life cycle. The bottom line, aim is to improve your chances for success.
Product objectives

The chart below shows where research fits in within the cycle of Idea — Testing — Development — Evaluation
Marketing objectives

The same cycle applies to marketing. So let’s look at how research helps meet your marketing objectives all the way from ideation through to evaluation of results.

Takeaways:


  1. Research is useful at all stages of the cycle: "Idea — Testing — Development — Evaluation"
  2. Research helps generate and select viable ideas, launch them in an optimal way, evaluate results and discover growth areas.
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