Sometimes a Variety of Research Techniques Needs to be Used to Successfully Launch New Products
“A combination of phone, email and in-person research provides valuable market feedback.”
A national company’s new product team was interested in exploring the commercial faucet market to learn more about the market’s preference for styles and types of faucets. The company was developing a new line of faucets and was looking for market feedback to help finalize the design and faucet features.
The client wanted to learn more about specific market trends impacting electronic faucets and what selection criteria or factors were most important in deciding on the type and brand of faucet selected for a building. In addition, the client wanted to identify any “gaps” in existing faucet features and functions. To assist with the new product development, the company wanted to gain additional insight into the market’s expectations and requirements for operations, installation, service and overall design.
In developing new products, there are always a variety of factors to consider. Research helps companies explore market conditions and understand key issues that can impact product development. Many times, the project requires more than one type of research methodology to get a clear perspective on the market.
To start the research, AIM used in-depth phone interviews with a variety of professionals who were involved with recommending and selecting commercial faucets. We interviewed both maintenance and facility managers, engineers, contractors and architects. By talking directly with users and influencers of faucets, the research was able to uncover specific trends and issues that were impacting faucet use and selection. In addition, with phone interviews, AIM was able to gather specific insight on the features, functions, and other factors most important to the market.
Once the product development team had more specifics on the market and were able to fine tune the features and functions, AIM recommended the client conduct an on-line quantitative survey to help identify the market’s preferences for a specific design and style of commercial faucets. AIM surveyed facilities and designers. By using an online survey, it was easy to show the audience different faucet designs and styles. The survey also included open-ended comment boxes to gain added details on what the market liked or didn’t like with a specific faucet design. One of the goals of the research was to also assist the client in identifying what faucet designs would be most appropriate for certain types of facilities and what “niche” might offer the most potential for additional sales.
After the client developed a working protype for a new faucet line, AIM worked with the client to conduct a live test of the faucets with potential handwashing users. For this “in-person” research, the faucets were installed in a commercial facility restroom. With the help of AIM’s sister company, Interline Creative Group, AIM created a unique invitation for participants to sign-up online. During the test, the product engineers were able to observe the faucets in use and talk with participants to gain additional insight. In addition, AIM designed a custom survey for handwashing participants to complete once they had used the new “test” faucets. To encourage completion of the survey, those that participated were included in a drawing to win one of three $150.00 Visa gift cards. The event survey asked users specific questions on their experience with using the faucet and for feedback on the design. The user was also asked about their satisfaction with the operation of the faucet, the position over the sink and various other factors like the water volume, temperature and duration.
Complex Market or Product Situations Sometimes Require a Combination of Research Techniques
Today’s markets are complex and are always changing. With the increase in new technology, growth of social platforms and other issues such as the “new” hybrid workforce, it becomes increasingly important for companies to conduct research to stay informed. Not only are the issues impacting a particular audience shifting but individuals buying behaviors and communications preferences are also always in flux.
Using multiple research methods is particularly effective to uncover differentiation in a new product launch. Here are three of the most talked about benefits.
- Comprehensive Understanding. Using one research method over another often bypasses what using multiple methods would offer: that is, access to different audiences who have a preference for one way or another of responding. Employing various research methods provides a more comprehensive understanding of customer needs, preferences, and perceptions. Most of the time in such B2B research, professionals who are targeted are extremely busy and they may not respond or even “see” a particular outreach. Besides, each method may reveal different facets of that differentiation that might be missed with a single approach. For example, contractors who are largely “in the field” will sometimes answer their cell phones on the way to and from a project location and give powerful information in an interview setting. AIM put this kind of knowledge to work in this particular project.
- Contextual Insights. In-person interactions and interviews provide contextual insights that may not be captured through email or phone surveys. Observations of body language (or phone voice) give us impactful insights into the clarification of what is being said. While the same might not be said of surveys per se, how questions are formulated often deliver such perspectives.
- Data Triangulation. Utilizing multiple research methods enables data triangulation, where AIM researchers can cross-reference findings from different sources to validate and strengthen the credibility of their conclusions. This is so important because launching a new product can be complicated and very expensive for a company. The mis-interpretation of a conclusion can lead a company to go totally off course (i.e., Coke is a famous example of how a company can take a wrong turn when omitting triangulation).
Because the dynamics of any market can be complex and difficult to understand, AIM recommends using more than one research method to better pinpoint what is driving or impacting the target audience, especially in new product launches. It is important to talk to the market either on the phone or in person to pick up the “details” you may miss in an online survey. A quantitative survey can provide you with a higher level of confidence that your perspective on the market is correct.
While many marketers are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) for market information, it can never replace doing primary research with a company’s current or potential customer. In a recent blog titled What to do About ChatGPT for Planning Business Strategy, by our sister company Interline Creative Group, AI lacks understanding and creativity. While AI may be able to search and collect market data or statistics, it cannot replace the need to conduct current research with a target audience, nor the need for human creativity that comes from understanding and insight.
After all the research was complete, AIM’s client successfully launched a new commercial faucet line. Not only did the research help the product development team determine the features and functions that were most important to their existing customers and potential customers, but it provided valuable feedback on the overall design and style of the faucet. In addition, by conducting a live test with the protocol faucets, the product engineers were able to fine tune the design and functions to better meet potential customers’ needs. Using a variety of different research methods provided the client with the market intelligence they needed to deliver the right product to the market.
The B2B marketing environment is rapidly changing and there are many research methods companies can use to stay informed and at the “top” of their market. AIM encourages marketers to explore a variety of methods to gain a clear and accurate reading on their market. For assistance in developing or launching a new product or in analyzing your market position and preferences as well as the multiple research methods available today, email email@example.com or call 847-358-8558.