In-Depth Phone Interviews Helps Product Manufacturer Develop Pricing and Product Strategies

“Talking to target audiences can help a product manufacturer identify obstacles AND opportunities.”


A product manufacturer wanted to learn more about how data from the operations of commercial buildings was being collected, analyzed and distributed. As more and more functions like heating, lighting and water usage within a building were becoming a part of the growing “Internet of Things” (IoT), the product manufacturer wanted to explore how building operations data was being processed and distributed to help them develop a data pricing and product strategy for their own product that was designed to work in that environment.

More specifically, the company wanted to understand what type of data were being provided and how the information benefited the building owner. In addition, the manufacturer wanted the research to explore details about the systems that were used to collect the data, what type of reports and summaries were provided to the building owner, and so on.

By learning more about how building operations data was being successfully collected and used by building owners, the product manufacture could not only better price their data and product offer but could identify any hurdles or opportunities the buildings operation data and IoT might offer.


Exploring the IoT of commercial building operations can be very complex. Not only do the systems and data vary by the type of operation within the building; the data and benefits can vary dramatically based on the type of commercial building (i.e., retail, education, office, etc.).

AIM’s expertise in data was known to the client. Ranging from the company’s comprehensive report, Data Center Construction: An Insatiable Market, to numerous updates and other papers from sister company Interline Creative such as How Much Data Can You Eat?, AIM provides its clients with realistic solutions to the overwhelming amount of data available.

In order to help the client uncover any hurdles or opportunities for data collected on various building operations, AIM recommended custom and in-depth phone interviews with various building owners and a variety of companies that were already providing some type of building operations data to the market.  This would include manufacturers that are providing any type of building automation data on HVAC, lighting, security, refrigeration or building maintenance.

The research was structured to get detailed information from a variety of different types of buildings including retail stores, large public facilities like airports, or conventions centers, office buildings and universities. In addition, interviews were conducted with large property management firms like Jones, Lang, Lasalle (JLL), Cushman & Wakefield or CBRE.

To ensure the research provided consistent data across interviews for comparison purposes, AIM developed a list of standard questions to gather specific information. The questions were open-ended and were designed to gather information on the type of data provided, the frequency of data collection and reporting, benefits realized or provided. In addition, the interviews were designed to uncover potential issues or failures, details on the software/data systems used for collection/reporting and the cost and pricing structure of providing data and reports regularly.

In-depth Custom Phone Interviews Help Uncover Key Benefits and Pitfalls for New Product Development.

When companies want to gain market insight on a complex product or service issue, there is no better way than using detailed customized phone interviews to reveal some of the biggest challenges or uncover hidden opportunities.

Speaking directly with professionals involved with a product or service on the phone, allows individuals the opportunity to share both their concerns and successes freely. It also gives the researcher the ability to probe for more details and dig deeper into a particular topic or situation. Most important, in-depth phone interviews provide flexibility to go “off” script and to learn about topics or situations not even anticipated.

While reaching key professionals these days via phone can be challenging with a sizable percentage of people still working from home and others overwhelmed with emails, AIM has been successful scheduling phone interviews. Using innovative tactics and carefully timed messages, AIM has been able to uncover key insights that help the client make informed decisions. It may take a little extra time to schedule an appointment for the phone interview, but the value of speaking directly with key professionals always pays dividends[1].


For this research project, AIM made over a hundred calls, and was successful in reaching over 60 companies, conducting twenty-five in-depth interviews.

AIM was able to provide the client with a list of the most common data points used by building owners, with information on how the data was used and what benefits were provided. For example, professionals reported specific labor and work savings, increased satisfaction levels and other documented savings. In addition, the research presented information on the software platforms they  used, what reports and interfaces were most important, the costs associated with data collection/analysis and the pricing structure some manufactures were using for the data intelligence they provided.

In a recent blog by Interline Creative Group titled, “Good Afternoon, Tom, said the A.I.”  not all information can be automated because human behavior is complex. The same holds true for research. Not all research can be done by a survey questionnaire or on-line platform. Sometimes with complex products or market issues it is best to talk directly to professionals involved. Using customized, in-depth phone interviews will help companies uncover potential obstacles or barriers to market penetration. It can also help expose unknown opportunities (see footnote). A third-party research company like AIM can develop a customized research program that will provide objectivity, unbiased direction and valuable insight with any complex market or product issue.

For more information on how AIM can assist you with phone interviews or other types of qualitative or quantitative research email or call 847-358-8558.

[1] In one interview, and entire new strategy for the client was developed at the small airport market. During the interview, AIM found out that there would be no way management would place a data collection system at the airport, except when the topic of hygiene arose, in which case the interview took a sharp turn to the opportunity of a complete network (set up by our client) to handle these airports.